ACE Blog

Youth Pass pilot launch!

July 2, 2015

YAC alum Kasey Shen shares the organizing behind the Youth Pass.They said it couldn't be done. That it was too expensive. That they weren't ready and we needed to wait.

They've even ignored us, talked down to us, waited to see if we'd get tired and give up.

But youth are powerful. We persisted. We did everything they asked for and then some. We never stopped fighting.

And now we've won!

Yesterday, hundreds of young people across the Boston area were able to board the MBTA using the first-ever Youth Pass, as part of our Youth Pass pilot program.

We celebrated the program launch in Dudley Square with our Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC), city officials and the Secretary of Transportation. This comes after eight years of youth-led organizing for a more affordable and accessible public transit system.

Nicole Baltazar, Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition member and Youth Pass participant

July 1, 2015

Nicole at the Youth Pass pilot opening day celebrationI’m in the 11th grade in Malden High School. I transferred here last year, and prior to that I was living in Boston. I came to America in 2013 and went to Brighton High, and felt really happy because I received a Student Pass for free. I was really happy because I was able to go places and didn’t have to worry about the fare. I went to the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) program at Wentworth and the MIT PRIMES circle, a college math class, and it was a great opportunity. When I was going to these programs I used the train and the bus and my pass helped me throughout the year.

When I transferred to Malden I was really surprised that I couldn’t get a Student Pass and had to pay the fares all the time. There was a time when I was sharing a pass with my mom and sometimes our schedules didn’t match up and it was really inconvenient. I got involved with MAACC, the Malden Asian American Community Coalition, and advocated for the Youth Pass in Malden.

I thought the Youth Pass was really great because students are going to pay $1 a day. For me, I ride the bus all the way to and from school. The Youth Pass pilot program is great for teenagers like me because we will save a lot of money and can spend money on other important things.

Shihua Wu, Youth Pass pilot participant

July 1, 2015

Shihua at the Youth Pass pilot opening day celebrationI live in Charlestown. I attend Boston Latin Academy and I’m going to be a rising senior. I’m 16 years old and I enjoy basketball and being involved with the community. I represent Charlestown as part of the Mayor’s Youth Council – I advocate for policy and programs. I’m a liaison, a bridge, between the mayor and Charlestown.

I first heard about the Youth Pass through an email about enrolling in this program. I use the T every single day, especially during the school year. I live in Charlestown and my school is in Dorchester. I take two buses and a train to get to school. Now that it’s summer, I will take the T to go to work and get home – I’ll be working at Fidelity Investments.

During the school year I had an M-7, a seven-day pass, that I used every single day, and a lot of my friends use the M-7. I would say that the majority of my friends rely on the MBTA. The M-7 only runs throughout the school year, so I’m glad I’ll have an alternative to the adult monthly pass. Since the Youth Pass is only $26, it gives me control – I won’t have to ask my parents for money.

Asia Fleming, REEP youth organizer, YAC member and Youth Pass pilot participant

July 1, 2015

Asia at the People's Climate March in 2014I’m from Roxbury, and when I was 12, my cousin Dakeira worked at ACE and I used to come to some of the events and member meetings with her. I had no idea what was going on – I just knew it was really fun. So when I got old enough, I became a member and participated in The City School’s Summer Leadership Program. Then I gave a speech, got elected as a Youth Organizer and I’ve been here for almost four years.

When I was a member, I worked on all of the campaigns. The asthma one was a big one – we went up to City Hall and wore breathing masks. The Youth Pass was a big one too – we went to the State House and held a die-in – that was the first really big rally I went to.

The Youth Pass is important to me because when I started REEP, I was just starting high school and I wasn’t getting a school bus to school anymore. I would have to pay for the MBTA, and at the time, I was putting $2.00 on every day to go to school and come home from school. That was two buses to school and two buses back – it was a lot of money.

Armando Barragan, Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition member and Youth Pass Working Group member

July 1, 2015

Armando at a YAC celebration in 2014For me, the Youth Pass is important because I’ve always used the MBTA to get to school, since middle school. Even though my middle school was in East Boston where I live, I still took the bus to get there, and at that time I didn’t get a Student Pass. So I would pay the student fare and that was money that I had to pay every single day that I went to school.

Since going to high school, I have to use more transportation – the train and the bus. Luckily, for high school, I did get a Student Pass. But if I didn’t, I definitely wouldn’t have gone to that school at all. There wouldn’t have even been a possibility for me to go because of all the money I would have spent just on transportation for four years. I would have ended up going to the high school in East Boston, which I didn’t want because I knew there were opportunities for me somewhere else to do the things that I actually wanted.

So a pass – being able to get on the train affordably – was the best thing for me. There are tons of other students who have similar experiences and use the MBTA every single day. A pass is really useful for them.

Work for transit justice with us!

June 17, 2015

Come work with TRU!Do you believe public transportation should be affordable? Want to improve the state of the MBTA? Come work with our T Riders Union (TRU)!

We are hiring a part-time organizer to work with members and bus riders to ensure that legislators invest in our public transit system and avoid disastrous proposals like eliminating the fare increase cap and bus-to-subway transfers.

Public transit is a public good - let's make sure it's accessible to transit-dependent folks. See the job description and apply by sending a resume and cover letter to Position is open until filled.

Youth Summit: Save the date

June 17, 2015

Art projects at last year's Youth SummitSave the date for this year's Youth Summit! Hosted by our Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP), the gathering brings together hundreds of young people to learn, share and build power.

The day-long gathering is by youth, for youth, and includes interactive workshops, an open mic, arts and crafts, performances by local artists, free lunch and much more.

We're holding the summit on July 31. Contact Olmis for more information and stay tuned for details!

Hundreds celebrate environmental justice!

June 17, 2015

Thanks for coming out to celebrate!Thank you for supporting and attending Jammin' for Justice last month! We loved celebrating the work we accomplished together with so many members and partners. You helped make this year's celebration hugely successful, raising the most money yet! Your support means that this year, we can continue working for clean air, the right to remain in Roxbury in the face of gentrification and displacement, accessible public transportation and much more.

Special thanks to our 2015 EJ Awardees: Black Lives Matter Boston and the Boston Coalition for Police Accountability, Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance members and state allies of the Executive Order for Environmental Justice campaign, and the leadership team of the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition. We were honored to be able to recognize your impressive work for racial, transit and environmental justice.

Thank you for making Jammin' such a fun evening! See highlights from the evening on our Facebook album.

Join us at Hyjack dah Hood!

June 17, 2015

Extensive development is rapidly transforming Dudley SquareJoin us at Hyjack dah Hood this Saturday, June 20, to explore how we can turn the tide against gentrification and displacement in Roxbury!

Extensive development is rapidly transforming the Dudley Square area - how can we ensure that low-income residents don't get pushed and priced out? Together, we will learn about the impacts of structural racism, strategize powerful responses, participate in games and activities, and more.

We'll be focusing on improving public transit, food justice and community control of land, dismantling racism, and the campaign to protect residents through just cause eviction. Our partners at Youth Against Mass Incarceration and Bikes Not Bombs will also be holding workshops on knowing your rights.

It's time to remain, reclaim and rebuild our neighborhoods! Suggested donation is $5.00 - no one turned away.

Member Profile: Whitney Ogbesoyen, REEP alum

June 3, 2015

Whitney Ogbesoyen, REEP Alum When I started the Summer Leadership Program on social justice at The City School in 2009, I became really invested and loved the work. Their former director sent me to REEP, and I applied, got in and absolutely loved the program. There were two main campaigns and air quality was one of them. We talked about a kid who died of asthma and that was really personal to me because I have family members with asthma. Asthma is not something we really talk about among youth—we talk about other issues, like violence—but asthma was not one of them.

Roxbury, a low-income community, has six times the asthma rate of Massachusetts. It really shows that asthma is a problem—this is extremely high and it’s also high in other communities of color. We have a lot of schools in our district and people miss work and school because of asthma. We shouldn’t have this problem if we have a way to fix it.