The 351 Story

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Inspired by a vision of unity

We believe that inside every young person is a brave, bold leader with dreams of a better world and the skill, passion, and creativity to achieve their vision. When called to serve, this generation responds with an urgency of now. Yet, too often, a young person’s desire to lead isn’t matched with requisite resources, mentors, and platforms. 

This untapped potential is our most precious resource and an extraordinary force for good.

Project 351 is determined to meet the demand for high quality, enriching service opportunities that respect and reflect the unique gifts and world changing aspirations of young people. And, to joyfully mobilize that abundance of talent and goodness to uplift, unite, and transform communities. 

Our story began in 2011, when former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick sought to celebrate his second inaugural with a focus on young people and community. The concept of Project 351, which had been developed by Carolyn Casey, reflected Governor Patrick’s belief in the Beloved Community and the unlimited potential of young people. His embrace led to the realization of Project 351 as a one-day celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., statewide unity, and youth leadership.

By day’s end, a movement of hope-in-action had been founded. And, with it, an invitation to serve and lead for eighth graders in each of Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns. From that day forward, Project 351 Ambassadors would unite the entire state as one team, one community in service to cause greater than self.

One year later, Governor Patrick convened the second Class of Ambassadors to celebrate Dr. King and kick-off a 12-month leadership journey. The mission of Project 351, as an independent, nonprofit youth leadership organization, had begun!

 
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With the enthusiastic and engaged leadership of Governor Charlie Baker, Project 351 is a grassroots, youth-led, school-based movement for positive change. One that advances Social and Emotional Learning objectives, scales transformative impact for a portfolio of nonprofit innovators, and develops a rising generation of upstanders, bridge builders, and change makers.

Today, our Ambassador and Alumni community stands 3,001 strong, with more than 550,000 lives positively impacted through service. With Project 351 enrichment, training, and mentorship, Ambassadors dedicate a year to build unity, cultivate kindness, and transform lives and communities through service. As they serve, they develop the courage, compassion, and capabilities to lead awe-inspiring change.

 
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As it was in 2011, our mission is fueled by a statewide community of doers and dreamers who humble us by their example and inspire us with their tireless efforts in support of the aspirations and hopes of all young people. Founding partners like John Hancock, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, City Year, Boston Cares, New England Patriots Foundation, and educator champions across the state have devoted eight years of wisdom, skill, and belief to ensure organizational and programmatic excellence. We are indebted to these founding partners and to the educators and nonprofit partners we have been fortunate to work with along the way. This statewide community includes volunteers from every sector and age. Each generously contributes the gifts of time and skill to make our mission possible. We are most grateful. 

In a new world reality where polarization and division is the norm, our mission -- and the idealism and goodness of our Ambassadors -- feels more urgent than ever. Our commitment to build strong and inclusive communities and foster values that reflect the best of humanity is a tribute to this generation’s optimism, idealism, and patriotism.

It is the greatest honor to serve with and learn from our young leaders who demonstrate every day -- through word, deed, and action -- that the Beloved Community is within reach.

 
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