Category Archives: City Links

$100K for 100 Grant Award


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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.

Meet Alexander, Akeru, and Harry

alexander“This is Alexander, a Junior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School from El Salvador. In his free time he likes to go to the gym and work out. He dreams of becoming a detective and going to Boston College.” – Written by Peer Leader, Cynthia

“Let’s meet Akeru. She is from Japan and has been inAkeru United States for a few months now. She is a junior and this is her first year in the City Links program. She is a wonderful student who works hard to achieve her goals and prepares herself  for whatever comes her way.” – Written by Peer Leader, Pauline

IMG_0808“Hi all! Let’s meet with Harry Jean. He’s nice and he likes his friends. He’s from Haiti and he’s in the City Links Program. He wants to be a carpenter or mechanic after finishing his studies.  He likes to play games and watch T.V in his free time.” – Written by Peer Leader, Aisha

Meet Abigael, Kenlly, and Aruzhan

Five Peer Leaders were selected this year to act as role models and to support other students. They recently conducted interviews with all of the Leadership Program students. Here are their first few interviews:

abigael“Come and say hi to Abigael, a Sophomore at Rindge. She is a smart, jovial young lady. You would like to have her for a friend because she knows what a true friend is about. She is always here to listen to her friends no matter what. She has great goals for life. She wants to go to college and be Doctor Abigael, well-renowned in the world. She dreams of having her Dad with her in the US.  She hopes to keep up her good grades and work harder everyday for a better future. She had to struggle with not knowing English and left her country to move to a country different from hers. Even though she has daily challenges she kept on pushing forward and has a big smile on her face.”-  Written by Peer Leader, Sephora

Kenlly“Let’s meet  Kenlly, he is from the Dominican Republic and enjoys playing basketball. He has been such an excellent student all his years with City Links. As a student in his last year at Cambridge Rindge And Latin School, he works hard with the intention to fulfill  his tasks.” – Written by Peer Leader, Pauline

Aru“This is Aruzhan, she is in 10th grade. She was born in Kazakhstan and loves to play tennis and ride horses. Her dream is to graduate from one of the top universities in England and then get a masters degree at one of the Ivy League universities. She dreams of opening her own business. She plans on getting a degree in law with a minor in business management.” – Written by Peer Leader, Cynthia

Westfield State University

by Bernadine, City Links Student

This summer we the City Links Work and Learning Program visited Westfield State University. It’s two hours by car from Cambridge to there without traffic. The first thing I like about Westfield is that it is half the cost for the same education I will get in private colleges. The catalog our tour guide gave us said: “Westfield State College is one of a kind, combining big school features with small school advantages.  You will find a high quality academics and a gorgeous campus.  You will find affordable, innovative programs enhanced and anchored by Westfield’s original founding principles.  Immersive study-abroad programs in more than 35 countries around the world, as well as focused short-term programs led by faculty. The college provides more than 700 internship and field experience opportunities available every year.”  It sounds really good.

At the beginning or our visit, we took a tour of the university. We saw the gym and the library. We learned about how the school functions.  I learned that right after graduating from high school, the university let you stay during the summer for free if you are planning to attend the school.  I learned that they provide great scholarship opportunities for the students.  The higher your GPA is, the more money you will receive.  The higher your SAT score is, the more scholarships you can get.  They have a great law program and a very strong Computer Science Program.  The college campus is very big and is very is beautiful and magnificent. Westfield State University has an Urban Scholars program for students like me.  Everyone was very excited and happy to have had the opportunity to visit.

Superintendent Meeting

by Misam, City Links Student

Misam FarsabOn Wednesday, in the spring, all the students in City Links program went to meet the Superintendent in his office. We met him and we introduced ourselves and we gave him information about our background.

Many students asked questions. For example: someone asked “why does the school start early?” He responded “if the school started late we will lose a lot of activities.”  Also, some students said they want to challenge themselves by taking high level classes. He responded he would talk to the teachers. We also compared our culture with our live in Cambridge. For example: some students talked about eye contact and how it has a different meaning in their culture. Some people talked about their mentor and they said having their mentor for two years helped them in their life.  We felt impressed because we taught him a new thing. It was a great opportunity for the students in City Links program to meet the Superintendent.


Hindu-Indian Arranged Marriages

by City Links Student Jarna

Jarna UddinMy name is Jarna Uddin.  I am from Bangladesh.  I am Muslim but I am very interested in  Indian and Hindu culture.  I also watch Indian movies and I speak little bit of Hindi.  I would like to tell you how much I know about Hindu-Indian arranged marriages.

Most Hindu marriages are arranged but some are love marriages.  The wedding takes place over several days.  100 to 10,000 people attend the wedding, but the bride’s and the groom’s family don’t necessarily know everyone. The wedding goes for three days. The first day is  called Holud day: the groom’s family apply Holud ( yellow turmeric ) to themselves and then they bring that holud to the bride’s family to apply to her hands, face and legs.  They also apply Mehendi ( Henna) on her hands and legs.  After finishing applying the two families dance together and cut cakes.  On the second day the bride is decorated with gold and diamond jewelry and wears a red sari or lehnga. The most important thing is that the bride and the groom walk in a circle seven times around a sacred fire (saptapadi)  Also the groom puts sindoor on the part of her  head. Sindoor is the mark of a married women in Hinduism. She will wear this red powder for the rest of her married life .  After this they are considered  husband and wife but there is more to the wedding. The next part is kanyadaan. It is when the bride’s parents give their daughter away.  The groom makes the promise that he will love their daughter very much. The last ceremony is the flower bed ceremony. This is held at the groom’s house. The marital bed is decorated with flower by the groom’s family.  After the wedding night at the groom’s house, in the morning, the bride and the groom pay calls on her relatives.  I hope one day I will attend a Hindu wedding.

I think this system is great because arranged marriage brings the bride and the groom’s family together. There is a matchmaker who brings information to each side.  The two families have to agree on the offer. If either the bride or the groom don’t agree the marriage won’t happen, but if they do agree the marriage will take place. I like the system because the new marriage may need help. the two  families to support the new family in material and spiritual ways. For example material things like a house, a car, or money and spiritual things like advice, religious counseling and babysitting. These things are not necessarily available in a love marriage.


My Dream

by Aisha, City Links Student

Aisha (2)It was November 24, 2013, when I arrived to New York from my original country where I was born. I was so excited to see my family again my brothers, my sister and my father, because they have about ten years since they moved here to the United States and left back in my country my mother and me. On the other hand, I was sad to leave my mother alone in my county but no way, I have to leave her alone and come to United State to look for better life.

I feel like I will achieve my goal that I dreamed of every day, because in the United States I can get a good education, good life and I will help my family. Back in my country there isn’t good education like here in the United States, and also you have to pay in order to get education even though is not a good like here. When I was in my country I feel like I can’t achieve my dream because of the situation that they have in the education sectors.  When I went to school in the United States for the first time it was hard for me to communicate with a different people because I didn’t know how to speak English and I never get friend. I feel like it’s impossible to make my dream come true because in this country you have to speak english in order to communicate with the different people or it will hard to get any help.

Luckily for me, I have a wonderful tutor named Mr. Jake who helped me English, and also in the class I have Mr. Figueroa who really helped me so much in English. Now I can speak English even though I make mistakes. At this time I’m sure if God help me I can make my dream come true. I want to finish my high school and get a good grade and high GPA in order to go to a good college in the United State. In college I like to study business management because I want to be a businesswoman. After finishing my education here I want to go back in my country to stay there and open a business, to help the other people how have a hard life like the homeless. I’m sure I can do everything that I want with a help of God. God helps me to make my dream come true.

CRLS/City Links Trip to El Salvador

On June 19, 2015 sixteen CRLS/City Links Program students and three chaperones embarked on a journey to El Salvador, Central America. The goal of the trip was to immerse students in a different culture and language, to learn about the history and to participate in service learning projects in the community of San Jose Las Flores, Chalatenango El Salvador.  From the chaperones and students perspectives the trip was a great success.  First and foremost students were able to create strong friendships with the youth of 20150623_103255Las Flores in such a short time. Learned from the youth leaders and elderly in the community about the history of the civil war and how these moments in history touched the lives of everyone in the community.  Contrary to what media and communication outlets say, the communities we visited were very safe and peaceful. Students were also impacted by the terrain, the ocean, the rivers and the mountains and made many geographic connections, to their native countries.

I learned a lot about the history of the war, and it was very interesting to hear people’s experiences in the war. I learned about both specific dates and times in the war, as well as the general idea of what was going on. I also learned how small communities like Las Flores live, with the cooperatives, which is very different than America.                    – City Links Student

Students had the experience of living and observing a community that suffer deeply and was destroyed during the Civil War in the 1980’s, but a community that was determined to rebuild and develop with limited resources and with a vision of a shared economy.  Students were able to observe first-hand how people working together can succeed in building a community that is a strong and a viable place to live in.

What I learned about myself on this trip is that I am absolutely spoiled in the United States. In El Salvador people use less. Money is an amazing thing, but it’s a luxury in El Salvador. Many of the things that I have here, people don’t have in El Salvador. I have a phone, cable, electricity, nice shoes, and Internet all the time. Some kids in El Salvador can’t afford that. The people have less of everything; we have such as wealth and education. I realized that I have it better than other people, and I should be grateful for such an opportunity.                                      – City Links Student

Students also learned how the local elementary school is teaching students how to harvest plots of land in organic ways, and how to do so with limited resources.  Students had a great time interacting in the classrooms with teachers and learning about the differences in the education system compared to the one in the United States.  During free time, mostly in the late afternoon and evenings, students were able to hang out in the park, playing soccer, dancing or just simply resting.  In addition, students had the opportunity to work in the different community cooperatives, where they were able to learn more about the work of the cooperatives and interact with community members. Over all it was a fun learning experience for everyone who participated in the trip.



On this trip, one thing that I heard from a girl in the high school that had a huge effect on me is that she walks for about an hour every day, both ways, to and from school. This, for me, connected to the broader theme of the pure desire for education that I saw when talking to people from San Jose Las Flores, and even more so when spending time in the school itself. I think that in Cambridge, we often take for granted how we are provided with a first-rate education for free, which is convenient and near. Kids often complain about school or homework. However, this is not the case in El Salvador. In El Salvador, I believe that kids better understand that education is all too often a privilege, not a right. They realize that they are very lucky to be able to attend school, and want to make the most of their opportunity to learn. This, for me, was inspirational, and certainly made an impact on me.                           – City Links Student

An Entrepreneur’s Journey

by Harold, City Links Student

Today the City Links Summer Work and Learning students participated in a panel of entrepreneurs in Kendall Square. KSA Career PanelThe objective was to give students insights on different careers, such as law, business, and computer science.  Furthermore, they got to know the experiences that each of the three present entrepreneurs had gone through to be where they are today. From those lessons, the City Links participants learned that life includes taking risks, patience, dedication, hardship, cooperation, diversity, and many more. Simplified, life is an unpredictable game that you have to learn how to play to survive. Moreover, the students learned how many companies today function.  For example, how should someone apply for a job, what are companies looking for, how should you decide what you want to do for life. These were questions that were in many of the students’ minds, since many are close to graduating high school. Concluding, it’s extremely important to have people who can help you find your path.

Afterwards, we visited a biotech company called Genzyme, where students got to see with their own eyes how modern companies are developed today. One thing we learned about Genzyme is that the building was constructed with materials that offered no harm to nature. It was a great experience to some of the students who deeply care for nature to know that some people are taking steps to serve as examples to a more “green” world. Plus, it was useful for the students to get to see the format of such work sites, the relationship between people, and what is expected of each employee to maintain a workable environment. To put it short, it was an incredible experience to all of us.