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Our Mission & History



The City School (TCS)’s mission is to develop and strengthen youth (ages 14-19) and young adults (19-25) from Boston and surrounding communities to gain the leadership development and community organizing skills needed to build collective power to challenge systemic oppression and advance racial, gender, economic, queer and disability justice. TCS’s programming equips youth with the tools to analyze systems of oppression, such as racism, ageism, classism, sexism, heterosexism and ableism, through popular education methods. In our programs, youth engage with collective care and transformative justice practices that allow for personal and community healing, improved mental health, and the support to organize with peers to take collective action to change these systems.


Supporting our youth to challenge the intersectional marginalization of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and ageism that decreases their quality of life and prevents political power, we provide community-based programming in six key areas: Leadership Development, Mental Health, Political Education, Civic Engagement and Community Organizing, Mentoring, and Youth Employment. 


The City School originated in 1987 from some simple questions: "Why are some people homeless? Why don't we learn about it in school? What can we do about it?" Those questions from students at Milton Academy helped launch Youth Outreach Weekends, where adult mentors guided teens on service retreat weekends to help uncover the root causes of homelessness -- and devise actions they could take on homelessness and other issues they cared about. 


From that start, the Summer Leadership Program began in 1995 as a way to intently continue the learning that many young people received on the weekends. The Summer Leadership Program was a collaboration between Cathedral High School, Boston Latin School, and Milton Academy, bringing together a diverse range of teens for hands-on leadership training, seminars on some of the most pressing issues of the day, and a focus on building community and bridging relationships. Today, the Summer Leadership Program brings together youth from across Boston's diverse neighborhoods and from many suburbs, and has expanded to include internships at local nonprofits for all teen participants, and Community Action Projects where the students develop and implement concrete, meaningful projects throughout the city.


From those early beginnings, The City School has grown into a vibrant center for youth leadership development, offering after-school, weekend and summer programs that focus on critical thinking, community building, service work, reflection, and action. Our programs continue to unite high school students from the full range of our society, developing long-term leadership skills of diverse young people concerned with social justice.     

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