Author Archives: cambridgecommunity

A Brand New Day: Thoughts from Executive Director Ben Clark

Today is an exciting day. I’m thrilled to announce that Cambridge Community Services (CCS) and City Links are re-branding, and will now be known as Enroot

Our new name and brand is more reflective of our current work and aspirations moving forward. The word enroot [v. to establish, to attach or place securely, to fix by the root] speaks to both the unique student population we serve and the impact we strive for each day as we support their growth during their first few years in this country.

So what will change? Our name, website, and email addresses will change (check out our new site at So will our logo and colors. You’ll see a new newsletter starting in September. But the mission and program you’ve known and loved for many years as City Links, the amazing students we serve, and our deep commitment to their success will all remain the same. We also still need mentors and tutors to empower our students, so spread the word!

I’d like to once more express my deepest appreciation and gratitude to all of you for supporting our work and students over the years. I am so excited to move into this next chapter with you by our side.

Ben Clark
Executive Director
Enroot (formerly Cambridge Community Services)


Press Release: For Immediate Release
August 10, 2016

A Brand New Day: CCS unveils a new brand strategy to further community impact

Cambridge, MA- Cambridge Community Services (CCS) is excited to announce that it has changed its name to “Enroot.” After 78 years of strengthening the Cambridge community, the time has come to change our name to better reflect our vision for an inclusive and thriving community and mission of empowering immigrant youth to achieve success.

CCS was established in 1938 as the Cambridge Community Federation, a philanthropic federation with a mandate to raise charitable funds, to assess needs in the community, and to distribute funds accordingly amongst federation members. In 1951, the organization rebranded as Cambridge Community Services (CCS), a community development agency which assessed community needs and designed direct service programs in response.

Since pivoting to direct service, CCS has played a central role in providing and coordinating youth employment, education and career development services across Cambridge. Its programs have impacted many thousands of Cambridge residents. In 1992, CCS founded the City Links program, an out-of-school-time program offering mentoring, tutoring, leadership development, and workforce readiness opportunities to low-income immigrant students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS).

Recognizing the success of City Links, CCS’ Board of Directors engaged in a long-term strategic planning process and emerged with an inspiring new vision for the future: expansion and sustainable growth of a program whose alumni graduate college at twice the rate of their peers, with substantially increased self- confidence, advocacy, and leadership skills.

This fall we will continue ambitiously growing the program at CRLS, serving more students than ever before. We will also pilot an expansion site in a nearby community. After spending a year refining our vision, mission and values, we are ready to update our name to better reflect our impact and the future of our work.

Executive Director Ben Clark notes, “Throughout the long process of identifying the organization’s new name, it remained essential that the name speak both to the unique student population we serve and the impact we strive for each day. The word enroot [v. to establish, to attach or place securely, to fix by the root] speaks to both.

Echoing that sentiment, Board Chair Jonathan Steiman says, “Setting firm roots in their new land is perhaps the single most important pursuit for recently arrived immigrant students, since a strong foundation will be essential in realizing the dreams that brought them here.

We are thrilled to have been part of the journey for hundreds of CRLS alumni, and are excited to enter this next chapter serving even more CRLS students as Enroot. Our deepest appreciation and gratitude to those who have supported us in the past; we are so excited to move into this next chapter with you by our side.

Enroot is an organization with a mission to empower immigrant youth to achieve academic, career, and personal success through inspiring out-of-school experiences. Enroot students are given a lens through which to envision their future in new roles they otherwise might not have imagined. Our team of adult mentors, tutors, instructors, and case managers empower students through a comprehensive after-school and summer program that enables each student not only to succeed, but to achieve their own American Dream.

Ben Clark, Executive Director


New Life, New Home

By: Aisha, Class of 2016

20160609_171200As a girl from Tanzania I have faced a lot of challenges. I was born in a poor country where it was hard to get a good education. I decided to come to the U.S. for a better life. It was hard for me to come to the U.S., but I hope I will achieve my dream of getting a good education and starting my own business.

After leaving secondary school in Tanzania I did not get enough money to go to school to continue my studies. I decided to move to my aunt’s house to help with her business. We made donuts together. I would wake up at 3 am to begin making donuts with her. We would sell them all day and then we would clean up until almost 10 am. I would take a nap from 11 am until 2 pm, and then I would begin making more donuts. I was frustrated because it was a hard job and I was not able to go to school. Also, I thought that all my sisters and brothers, who were already in the U.S., were going to get a good education and I was just going to be making donuts for the rest of my life.

Tanzania is a peaceful country and its people are generous. However, it is also a big challenge to get an education because it costs a lot of money. The good schools are for rich people who can afford them. Everyone else goes to public school where it is difficult to learn, because classes are bigger and the resources are not as good. Some classrooms are missing tables, computer and chairs, and the teachers are underpaid and not motivated. After high school, it is hard to go to college if you went to public school. Poor people are vulnerable to hunger, homelessness, violence and oppression. They do not have access to good education and good jobs, so for generations they stay poor without any opportunities to improve their lives. Two years ago I left my country and came here to the U.S to live with my father. My mother tried to come with me, but she couldn’t because she didn’t get a visa. She was very sick with chronic allergies and asthma and could not get out of bed sometimes. Even though I wanted to take care of my mother, I had to find a way to get myself a better education and a better life. This was a hard decision because I felt guilty. I knew if I left my mom by herself, there would be nobody to take care of her. However, I had to leave her alone because I believed if I could come to the U.S. and get a good education and good employment, I could get enough money and experience to help her in the future.

I have many dreams, but I always say, “A better education is the best gift I could ever get.”  I have a passion to become a businesswoman. I want to major in accounting and business management, so I can become a better leader and work with people effectively. My perspective on life has changed tremendously. I concentrate on working hard for my future; my determination is what keeps me going. One of the things I have learned is that every opportunity opens a new door for one’s career; in addition, determination is important in order to succeed in life. Going to college will enable me to become who I want to be: a good leader who can have a positive impact in society. I know how hard life can get, and I believe I must use every chance I am given to make my life better.

CCS’ Continued Evolution

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we’re evolving. Our fourth core value of “constant improvement” demands it and we are excited to continue to grow and change as the community and our students do along with us.

The city of Cambridge has been growing and changing, and CCS and City Links have grown and changed along with it. More than Cambridge, the Greater Boston area has evolved, so we’re excited to be planning our first site outside of Cambridge to ensure City Links continues to serve low-income immigrant youth who need it most.

What does this mean for Cambridge Community Services and City Links? First- we’ll be expanding outside of Cambridge for the first time next year. Second- with a narrower program focus and expanded geographic footprint, we realize the time has come to rebrand the organization.

We’ve spent the last year refining our mission and program model (don’t worry- the City Links you know is still here!), now it’s time to refine our name. Over the next few months, we’ll be working with Soldier, a generous marketing firm in Harvard Square, to think about the future of our work.

Stay tuned!
– Ben Clark, Executive Director

$100K for 100 Grant Award


Cummings 100kfor100.jpeg

Cambridge Community Services is thrilled to announce we’ve been chosen by the Cummings Foundation as a #100Kfor100 grant recipient! This generous investment will ensure even more City Links students have the opportunity to succeed.

“We admire and very much appreciate the important work that nonprofit organizations like CCS are doing in local communities where our colleagues and clients live and work,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation Executive Director. “We are delighted to support their efforts.”

CCS empowers immigrant students to achieve success in college, career, and life. Through the holistic and robust program model of City Links, students are matched with an adult mentor, academic tutor, paid internship, and provided leadership development and community service opportunities. Students graduate college at twice the rate of their peer group with significant increases in self-confidence, self-advocacy, and professional skills.

CCS has operated City Links in Cambridge for the past 24 years. Thank to the generosity of Cummings Foundation and other partners, CCS plans to expand beyond Cambridge for the first time in the Fall of 2016.

CCS is one of 100 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100″program. We were chosen from a total of 470 applicants, during a competitive review process. Thank you to Cummings Foundation for investing in City Links students and providing this critical funding to start-up our expansion site.

Responding to the Refugee Crisis: Unaccompanied Minors


On a rainy Monday in May, CCS supporters, friends, and members of our community gathered to discuss the how the ongoing migration of unaccompanied children continues to impact our local community.  The evening provided much food for thought as attendees were encouraged to continue learning more about how to help these special students.

Our esteemed panelists – Marco Werman, Host of PRI’s The World, Elizabeth Badger, Senior Attorney of KIND (Kids In Need of Defense), and Karen Mejia, Community Health Worker for MGH Chelsea shared their insight, experience, and knowledge on these very sobering topics. As Marco said, “the point of all of these stories is taking from them a better understanding of what children need…” We hope you felt as motivated learning from them as much as we did.

A special thank you to City Links student and CRLS senior Saby for bravely sharing her story. Her mentor Lindsay put it best, “I’ve watched Saby grow and blossom through the program…City Links gave her the ability to get to where she needs to be. She’s going to college next year and will go on to do amazing things.”

At CCS, we are thrilled to have watched Saby grow the last 2 years, and can’t wait to see her spread her wings in her next chapter.

Lastly, a sincere thank you to our hosts- Lori and Eric Lander for so generously opening their home for the evening.

Interested in attending events like these in the future? Let us know- please email Bryanne, Development Director at We look forward to seeing you!

Volunteer Profile: Kaitie Conrad

“CCS plays a critical role for the broader Cambridge community, helping make it more inclusive and understanding.”

Q: Who are you?

A: My name is Kaitie Conrad, and I work on Project Management and Internal Strategy for Teach for America

Q: How did you find out about CCS?

A: I had been an adult tutor at a couple of organizations in Cambridge and Somerville, but I was looking to get back to working with youth. I was connected to CCS by Ben Clark, who was a Teach for All colleague and was on CCS’s board at the time.

Q: Tell us a bit about your volunteer experience thus far.

A: I started as a tutor back in January 2014. I’m currently working with Darianna, a great student who is originally from the Dominican Republic and is a junior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin.

Q: What excites you about being involved with CCS?

A: First, CCS provides great individualized support to its students, from internships to mentors and tutors. I also think CCS plays a critical role for the broader Cambridge community, helping make it more inclusive and understanding.


Volunteer Profile: Somaliyah Al-Mahdi

international dinner (2).tutor.tutee

“I want service programs of this exceptional quality to continue to exist in the city.”

Q: Who are you?

A: My name is Somaliyah Al-Mahdi, and I am a development assistant.

Q: How did you find out about CCS?

A: I found out about CCS after searching for volunteer opportunities on Idealist.

Q: Tell us a bit about your volunteer experience thus far.

A: I started out volunteering as a tutor for CCS in the winter of 2014. Every experience that I’ve had with the students and staff since then has been wonderful. Currently, I serve as a mentor to a really great and driven student. I help her with everything from college prep and job applications to navigating the city.

Q: What excites you about being involved with CCS?

A: I really like the people. Both the management and the staff are clearly dedicated and have a lot of integrity about what they do.

Q: Why do you choose to donate to CCS?

A: I want service programs of this exceptional quality to continue to exist in the city.