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City Mission, Inc.

 185 Columbia Road, Suite 317
 Boston, MA 02121
[P] (617) 7426830 x 207
[F] (617) 7428470
Ruth Edens
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-2104003

LAST UPDATED: 02/25/2019
Organization DBA City Mission, Inc.
Former Names City Missionary Society of Boston, Inc. (1982)
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No



Mission StatementMORE »

Mission Statement:

City Mission catalyzes action to root out poverty in our neighborhoods. Our strategic focus is on homelessness prevention.


Guiding Principles:

As City Mission develops programs to unite communities and transform individuals, it chooses to emphasize programs which, at their core, embody the following three guiding principles:


City Mission creates and nurtures connections across disparate groups to broaden understanding and create meaningful, respectful, and mutually beneficial relationships.


City Mission educates and provides participants with the necessary resources to make informed decisions, confront challenges, and understand the larger context of complex social issues.


City Mission inspires and equips participants to directly effect change in their personal lives and to take action for systemic change.

Mission Statement

Mission Statement:

City Mission catalyzes action to root out poverty in our neighborhoods. Our strategic focus is on homelessness prevention.


Guiding Principles:

As City Mission develops programs to unite communities and transform individuals, it chooses to emphasize programs which, at their core, embody the following three guiding principles:


City Mission creates and nurtures connections across disparate groups to broaden understanding and create meaningful, respectful, and mutually beneficial relationships.


City Mission educates and provides participants with the necessary resources to make informed decisions, confront challenges, and understand the larger context of complex social issues.


City Mission inspires and equips participants to directly effect change in their personal lives and to take action for systemic change.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Oct 01, 2018 to Sept 30, 2019
Projected Income $833,685.00
Projected Expense $833,685.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Community Engagement/Service
  • Homelessness Prevention

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Mission Statement:

City Mission catalyzes action to root out poverty in our neighborhoods. Our strategic focus is on homelessness prevention.


Guiding Principles:

As City Mission develops programs to unite communities and transform individuals, it chooses to emphasize programs which, at their core, embody the following three guiding principles:


City Mission creates and nurtures connections across disparate groups to broaden understanding and create meaningful, respectful, and mutually beneficial relationships.


City Mission educates and provides participants with the necessary resources to make informed decisions, confront challenges, and understand the larger context of complex social issues.


City Mission inspires and equips participants to directly effect change in their personal lives and to take action for systemic change.

Background Statement

City Mission is the oldest multi-service agency in New England and the second oldest in the United States. Founded by members and clergy leaders of Old South Church UCC and Park Street Church in response to the hardships facing Boston residents, it has served the educational, economic, and social needs of impoverished area residents since 1816. Since its inception, City Mission has acted as the conscience of the community, often pioneering key social programs that later become separate nonprofit agencies that attracts broad community support.


Educational programs have always been a strong focus of City Mission’s work. A City Mission committee successfully argued for public instruction for children under the age of 7, resulting in the creation of Boston’s public primary schools, and City Mission board members were subsequently involved with the founding of Boston English High School.

Another significant project related to education was the establishment of a Commission on Housing and Education. Greater Boston Community Development, Inc., was founded from this effort, and the educational component of the Commission assisted parents and community groups in improving the public schools as well as facilitating the availability of affordable housing.

Other social and economic issues have been at the forefront of City Mission’s concerns over the years. In 1818 City Mission founded the “Penitent Female Refuge” in response to concerns about prostitution in the West End. The re-named Orchard Home School now operates under the auspices of the Home for Little Wanderers. And, it was a City Mission missionary who drew the city’s attention to unsafe living conditions for young women working in Boston, leading to the founding of the YWCA Boston.

Over the years, City Mission has served as a critical resource for other underserved and vulnerable populations including youth, the elderly, those incarcerated, and hospital patients, providing them with direct services through its staff and volunteers or connecting them with other agencies that can help to meet their needs. City Mission’s urban missionary work is the forerunner of the case management model of support for families, which is now the standard in agencies across the country.

Today, we combat family homelessness and poverty though a multi-level approach. We provide direct services that are designed to empower participants as well as service learning experiences that are designed to teach and to serve local communities.

Impact Statement

Accomplishments for 2014 

• “A Lift Up”: The homelessness prevention program achieved a success rate of 95% of graduates retaining housing.  Many of our  participants achieved education and training goals which they set for themselves.

• Boston Urban Outreach hosted 44 groups comprising 1,600 individuals from 13 states as far away as Texas to perform service learning activities in Boston.  Nearly half of the groups that came (48%) had participated in the program before.
• The Christmas Shop collected $100,0000 worth of toys, clothes and household items, which were distributed to 4,200 individuals.  Items where organized and distributed with the help of over 225 volunteers.

• COAT Boston completed its fifth year, continuing to grow, thanks to our partnership with Citizens Bank Foundation.  CMS purchased and distributed over 2,000 new coats to young people, including 500 at the Russell Elementary School, CMS's BPS "Circle of Promise" partner.

• Interns: CMS hosted  interns from Boston University School of Theology,  Andover Newton Theological School, Boston University School of Social Work, and Boston College School of Social Work.
Goals for 2015
  • Grow "A Lift Up" from 20 to 30 single mothers with dependent children, serving 100 participants overall, and providing a strength-based approach to breaking the cycle of multigenerational poverty. This growth will be accomplished by hiring a bilingual case manager and recruiting a group of 10 Spanish speaking women.
  • Finalize and utilize key talking points for external communications to consistently reinforce our new strategic direction of homelessness prevention. This will also dovetail with our preparation for the celebration of the 200th Anniversary in 2016.

Needs Statement

City Mission Society of Boston offers a variety of programs, developed in response to the concrete needs of the communities which we serve.  The top issues that we are facing are:

1) Our main challenge is to raise the profile of the organization.  We have not always been able to communicate to our constituents and supporters that our “historic” roots are combined with our capacity as a cutting-edge, social justice leader.  

2) CMS has long had a dual function.  While it provides direct services to urban residents, it also offers service-learning programs for a largely suburban population, largely from UCC churches.  As we shift our organizational focus to homelessness prevention, we are simultaneously shifting the focus of our service learning opportunities to this same focus. By refining and streamlining our efforts we hope to have greater outcomes for participants - both those are giving and those that are receiving.

3) The connection with the UCC is the outgrowth of CMS’s history as a faith-based organization.  Today declining memberships and giving of congregations threatens CMS’s financial stability and leads us to strengthen our status as secular-based direct service agency with a more diversified funding base.  

CMS completed a strategic planning process in 2014, outlining specific activities through 2016 that lead to a more successful and stronger organization both programmatically and financially. We are primed to articulate CMS’s unique contribution to the complex and crowded non-profit landscape.  

CEO Statement

With faith, hope, recognition of our limitations but with a renewed sense of urgency, the Board of Directors of City Mission Society of Boston approved a new mission statement and strategic direction on February 11, 2014. The strategic planning process involved board members, staff, long-time CMS stakeholders and community allies. Our new direction takes into account the current strengths and limitations of the organization as well as the current need in our larger community. Our new strategic focus will be on homelessness prevention. Our society - with all its vast wealth of resources and assets - has lived with the shame of homelessness for decades. The human tragedy of homelessness continues despite the best efforts nationally and locally to end it. And we know that homelessness is really nothing more or less than an extreme form of poverty.


CMS has addressed problems of homelessness through various programs in past years as we simultaneously addressed issues of racism, at-risk youth/gang violence, prison recidivism, support of low-income children in city schools and many other charitable services. However, as CMS approaches its 200th year, in 2016, of mission and social justice work we find ourselves at a place where we are compelled to pull our resources, stakeholders and programs together to focus more intensively on homelessness prevention. The times demand our focused attention. The families - the women, men and children who suffer on Boston's streets - demand our attention and efforts.


Current successful CMS programs and annual events such as the "MLK Day of Service" and the "Christmas Shop" will be more intentionally focused on serving people who are homeless and those who are at risk for becoming homeless. A current program like "Public Voice" can be redirected to use the power of story-telling to help educate and inform our constituencies about the challenges of sustaining one's housing situation during these economically challenging times. New initiatives that empower and educate in partnership with other community allies will develop as opportunity and need arise.


Our Board of Directors is more diverse today than ever before, including people of various faiths as well as people who may not practice any organized religion. Our work in the city requires us to seek partnerships with people of all backgrounds, orientations, races, beliefs and origins. As we celebrate 200 years of continuous good work in the city we look for support from many – our work is more urgent than ever on all fronts.

Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
City Mission serves the City of Boston, particularly the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.

Organization Categories

  1. Human Services - Homeless Services/Centers
  2. Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy -
  3. Housing, Shelter - Housing Support

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Community Engagement/Service

CMS serves over 1,400 volunteers a year from all over the country in activities that include:
Boston Urban Outreach invites groups to take part in service projects that challenge their notion of “who is my neighbor” while they work and learn in the neighborhoods of Boston.
The Christmas Shop brings the joy of the holiday season to over 2,000 children and adults in the Boston area. Over 200 volunteers from 45 churches gather and distribute over 10,000 toys and clothing items directly to CMS recipients and other families in crisis.
Martin Luther King Day of Service and Learning invites volunteers of all ages to honor the memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by offering their services at sites in and around Boston.
School Partnerships works with a number of the poorest schools in Boston, those with a high rate of children performing below expectations, including the Russell Elementary School in Dorchester, Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan, and Haynes Early Education Center in Roxbury. Volunteers provide academic mentoring, social and recreational activities, as well as maintaining the buildings and grounds.
Budget  $239,792.00
Category  Philanthropy, Voluntarism & Grantmaking, General/Other Community Service
Population Served Adults Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Families
Program Short-Term Success  In FY 2014 a large majority of groups participated in mission experiences through City Mission Society were UCC youth groups, so we are committed to expanding our outreach to include a more diverse group of participants. One of our service events involved a group of 40 international teens from the People to People Ambassadors Program.

Groups came from many states in New England and across the United States:
Massachusetts        23
Other New England    30
East Coast          3
Midwest          3
South              4
Program Long-Term Success  The Boston Urban Outreach program was launched in 2005 and has grown dramatically each year.  While there were 65 participants in the that year, in 2014 there were over 1400.  The best indicator of the program’s success is the large number of groups that come back each year.  Many groups come because the program has been recommended to them.
Program Success Monitored By  Program participants complete a survey including the following questions:
On a scale of 1 to 5:
How would you rate your Boston Urban Outreach experience?
How would you rate your City Mission Society contact?
How would you rate your work site or appropriateness of programming?
Did you receive appropriate and timely information before you signed up?
Did you get enough guidance during your trip?
 Did your BUO experience help to bring your group together as a team?
How would you rate the closing worship or reflection?
Examples of Program Success  Rev. Nancy Talbott, Congregational Church of North Barnstead, NH:
"The trip was just amazing. I have never before had kids connect so well so quickly. I think part of it was the flow of the experience.  The speaker was great, and I think the kids felt very grown up after that. Then we made sandwiches and had a real purpose. We did some evaluation along with some direction for Saturday connected to communion, and then Saturday morning they were charged and ready for the sandwiches on the Common and the meal and the was a non-stop experience. They were tired but they returned with a real sense of mission."

Homelessness Prevention

CMS's A Lift Up program devotes its resources to identifying and assisting families and individuals who are at risk of homelessness, as it is far more caring and cost-effective to intervene before someone needs to become re-housed.   A Lift Up serves female-headed households who are in crisis due to illness, unemployment, low income, or sudden emergencies, providing flexible funding and up to two years of case management to assure that they remain in stable housing and to support them on the path to economic self-sufficiency.   Educational Resource Group meetings,  skill building training, information, referral and advocacy services assist clients to self empowerment and to identify resources which may provide long-term assistance.
Budget  $204,423.00
Category  Housing, General/Other Housing Counseling
Population Served Adults Females Minorities
Program Short-Term Success  In the seven years of its existence, A Lift Up has achieved a 90% success rate in keeping women and their children in their homes. In February 2015 we began a comprehensive initiative to reach out and contact all prior program graduates to 'check in', offer support and ideally continued success. To date we have talked with 20% of participants and can report that 100% remain housed. 
Program Long-Term Success  Cost Savings:
In fiscal year 2014, CMS provided financial assistance to 12 families with rent arrearages, and several had received a Notice to Quit and had gone to housing court. Thanks to the intervention of ALU, all twelve have remained housed.  Taking into account CMS’s overhead for salaries, office expenses, etc., the cost is approximately $9,200/family.

In contrast, the average cost to shelter a family in
Massachusetts is over $26,000 per family. If all of these 12 ALU families had gone into shelter, it would have cost $312,000. Keeping these 12 families out of shelter saved the state over $201,600.
Program Success Monitored By  ALU’s objective is to significantly improve the economic and housing stability of female-headed households.  A survey is used at the beginning and end of  each program year to demonstrate improvement in clients’ housing situation and learning of skills to improve their housing retention.

1) Housing Stability: This is demonstrated by the participant’s residence in housing for which she has sufficient income or tenancy in subsidized housing (e.g. BHA).  

2) Economic Self-Sufficiency: The Self-Assessment tool is completed by the women in the program, and measures their perception of their own progress in four categories: Financial Literacy, Housing Stability,  Education/Vocation and Motivation.  The corresponding Clinical Assessment tool is completed by the case manager to measure the participants’ progress across categories of housing, employment, education/training and motivation.  Both of these tools allow us to more clearly define improvement in housing stability and assess it with reference to three other important categories, allowing the case manager to take the complexity of the participants’ situations into account.

3) Program Participation: Monthly assessment of attendance at individual and group meetings.

4) Action Plan: One of the topics at each of the individual monthly meetings is to identify concrete evidence of progress toward completion of this plan. This may include assessing education and employment goals and strategizing income-maximizing activities that participants will be able to sustain beyond the program.  These observations are recorded in participants’ case files.
Examples of Program Success  Martha is a single mother raising a severely autistic 7-year-old son. Martha works as a nursing assistant, but her hours are irregular and they have been cut drastically over the last year. Her decrease in pay, unpredictable work schedule, and her son’s special needs often overwhelm her. She fell behind on her rent and was at risk of eviction.  Through “A Lift Up,” Martha got advice and support as she went to the management office to address the rent arrearage and stabilize her housing. 

Joan is the mother of 5 girls; she works as a personal care attendant. CMS assisted her with a rental arrearage to help her get back on track. Joan has a teen daughter who developed mental health issues. Because of work demands, it was difficult for Joan to take time off to find services for her. Her “A Lift Up” case manager linked the family with a mental health clinic which assigned a home-based therapist to help with her daughter’s issues.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Rev. June R. Cooper
CEO Term Start Dec 2001
CEO Email
CEO Experience
  • Responsible for day-to-day operations of the organization
  • Supervise and evaluate staff and consultants/eight people
  • Liaison to the Board of Directors and staff working groups
  • Orchestrate internal program planning process
  • Cultivate relationships with faith community, UCC congregations, and other coalitions
  • Establish fundraising goals, determine strategy for grant development and implement plans to raise annual budget in concert with Board of Directors
Consultation and management support services on program design and development, organizational change and leadership, project start-up, quality assurance, strategic planning and board development to community and faith-based, and non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. In partnership with clients, diagnose problems, plan interventions and implement strategies for reaching goals and objectives. Meeting and retreat planning, facilitation, curriculum design, training and coaching.
Regional administrator for newly created Boston/Metropolitan Area Office (1993-94).
City of Boston, Department of Health and Hospital, Inc., Boston, MA
Executive Director (1991-93)
Program Associate
Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, MA (1999-2000)
Boston College Graduate School of Social Work Chestnut Hill, MA (1993-1999)
Boston University School of Social Work Boston, MA (1989-1992)
Simmons College Boston, MA, Lecturer/Mgmt. Dept. (1992-1996)
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Mr. Doug Mitchell Oct 1992 Dec 2001
Ms. Valerie Russell Apr 1981 Dec 1991

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Rev. Ruth Edens Director of Development --
Lynda Watson Director of Homelessness Prevention Programs Lynda Watson, MSW, LCSW; has 20 years of experience in the human services field, including 15 years in the housing and homelessness arena. Her skills include assessment and crisis experience running programs serving low-income families and individuals.


Award Awarding Organization Year
Haystack Award Justice and Witness Council, Massachusetts Conference, UCC 2016
Best Local Charity A-List 2011
Peer Provider Recognition Award Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers/Roxbury YouthWorks 2011
Best Youth Film Award Roxbury Film Festival 2009


Affiliation Year
Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers 2015
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


United Church of Christ, Associated Grantmakers, Walk for Hunger, City of Boston, MBTA Transit Police, Boston University, Boston College, Andover Newton Theological School, Harvard Divinity School, Greater Boston Legal Services, Project Hope, Mothers for Justice and Equality, Victory Programs, Russell School (BPS), Roxbury YouthWorks, Multicultural Symposium.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 5
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 240
Number of Contract Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % 80%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 3
Hispanic/Latino: 3
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 8
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? No
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit No
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mr. John Ketner
Board Chair Company Affiliation State Street Global Markets
Board Chair Term Oct 2018 - Oct 2021
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mrs. Carol Bukys Retired Commercial Real Estate Appraiser Voting
Mr. John Dale Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong Voting
Rev. Inez E. Dover Minister of Worship & Arts, Myrtle Baptist Church Voting
Mr. Kendale Edwards New England Regional Council of Carpenters Voting
Ms. Anne Gatewood Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Amy Green Social Impact Consultant Voting
Mr. John Ketner State Street Global Markets Voting
Ms. Carol Masshardt Licensed Social Worker, Retired Voting
Mr. Nicholas Nardacci KPMG LLP Voting
Ms. Ella Nevill Net Impact Board Fellow NonVoting
Dr. Russell Schutt Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston Voting
Ms. Vitalia Shklovsky Associate Development Manager, Landlease Voting
Rev. Wendy Vander Hart Metro Boston Assoc of United Church of Christ Exofficio
Minister Donette Wilson-Wood Principal, Rev. Dr. Michael E. Haynes Early Education Center Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 11
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 9
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance
  • Investment
  • Nominating
  • Personnel

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $676,820 $816,184 $898,464
Total Expenses $743,617 $807,097 $903,706

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$0 -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $18,750
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $0 $0 $18,750
Individual Contributions $540,631 $647,866 $819,213
Indirect Public Support -- $0 $0
Earned Revenue $48,702 $104,914 $0
Investment Income, Net of Losses $78,401 $63,404 $60,501
Membership Dues $0 $0 $0
Special Events $9,086 $0 $0
Revenue In-Kind $0 -- --
Other $0 $0 $0

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $548,068 $490,890 $748,037
Administration Expense $96,460 $113,218 $71,268
Fundraising Expense $99,089 $202,989 $84,401
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.91 1.01 0.99
Program Expense/Total Expenses 74% 61% 83%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 18% 31% 10%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $1,235,340 $1,267,457 $994,897
Current Assets $228,836 $226,741 $184,262
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $20,553 $18,157 $26,383
Total Net Assets $1,214,787 $1,249,300 $968,514

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value $845,167.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount $0.00
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 11.13 12.49 6.98

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s.  Contributions from foundations and corporation are listed under individuals when a breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

For 200 years City Mission Society has been providing compassion and support to underserved and impoverished members of our community. We educate and transform individuals through a multitude of services, aimed at reducing the causes of poverty and ultimately homelessness.

As it has since its earliest days, CMS has dedicated itself to the needs of the most vulnerable in Boston and founded many of the city’s most lasting charitable institutions – positively affecting 35,000 individuals annually. The majority of our participants are people of color, and growing numbers are immigrants for whom English is not their first language. CMS programs are designed to empower these participants to reach their full potential with hands-on assistance and the goal of teaching them useful life skills in a compassionate, communal environment. These support programs are geared to understand how these individuals need assistance and help them find a sustainable solution.

Not only do we offer individual hands-on programs that empower individuals, we engage in volunteer and community service initiatives, as well as educational and advocacy efforts that can have broad impact for the community as a whole. For example, working with A Lift Up homelessness prevention program participants, we have been restructuring our Public Voice program to involve them in advocacy and public education, specifically around the issues of housing and homelessness prevention. Public Voice builds on the successful public speaking and storytelling program of that name that CMS has run over the past eight years – utilizing the transformative power of stories both in individual lives and in larger civic discourse. Within the programs’ refined focus, we are equipping participants to educate audiences about issues of housing and homelessness through advocacy efforts to instill change in this area.


Public Voice is being intentionally structured to address the needs and potential of the audience as well as the speakers, putting comparable effort into identifying and recruiting sympathetic listeners as it does to identifying potential storytellers. Ultimately, they are ALL participants who benefit from being connected, mutually informed and empowered to join together in the essential mission to promote social action to reduce homelessness in our communities.


This is an auspicious time to undertake this endeavor with recent events such as the closing of the Long Island Shelter in October 2014. Hundreds of homeless individuals were displaced, with the city setting up temporary shelters, yet not presenting an immediate long-term solution. The development of plans has come to fruition because of the work of many advocacy groups and committed individuals. City Mission Society has been playing a leadership role to help uncover a solution, and while we are heartened to see the fruits of this labor, shelter space for women in general is deplorable. As a motivator and convener, encouraging holistic change, we will enhance this role through Public Voice by training women to speak for themselves and the issues affecting them.



2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

During 2013 City Mission Society Board, staff, and outside consultants developed a three-year (2014-2016) strategic plan that streamlines the focus of the organization to concentrate on homelessness prevention. We outlined specific activities for each year of the Strategic Plan that includes program expansion and plans for the relocation of our offices to a more appropriate physical location in proximity to the neighborhoods we serve. This alignment will result in substantial, quantifiable value to our organization and serve a stronger, healthier community. This restructuring is being implemented in tandem with our organizational plans to celebrate 200 years of service in 2016.

To realize this transition most effectively and efficiently we are cognizant of the importance of organizational longevity, and have been honing in on programs, activities and events which contribute to our long-term sustainability (looking towards a 50 year vision), namely – expanded awareness of the organization and its programs, growth and diversification of funding streams, and improved organizational infrastructure. CMS believes a program contributes to its endurance if it influences some (if not all) of the following factors:

  • Community Building – Expand the breadth and depth of our community and networks;

  • Impact – Grow the organization's credibility, influence, visibility, and name recognition and increase the depth of its positive influence on program participants; and

  • Revenue Generation – Attract direct program funding or better position CMS to attract general operating funds.

This three-pronged commitment to a vibrant future is providing the inspiration for a more successful and stronger organization both programmatically and financially, which in turn will result in stronger outcomes and greater impact for program participants.


One important step in this transition is the identification and development of brand identity and messaging that consistently reinforces our new strategic direction of homelessness prevention. In this regard we worked with a team from State Street Corporation (facilitated through Common Impact) to establish key organization messaging and high quality talking points that communicate our mission, values, and vision. The outcomes and suggestions from this endeavor are being taking into consideration as we now work with the agency 31 Lengths to refine our name and logo, as well as create an architecture for the brand that considers positioning, strategy and tagline, as well as advertising concepts for potential print, digital and direct-mail campaigns, and TV and radio scripts. These creative elements will provide the basis for our outreach surrounding the 200th Anniversary.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

For 13 years the Rev. June Cooper has ably led CMS through challenging economic times, building bridges and partnerships with faith-based organizations, educational institutions and diverse communities to nurture connections, inspire civic action, and transform individuals. City Mission Society’s programs have a shared focus on helping youth and adults reach their full potential and lead full lives, primarily disadvantaged, low and moderate income residents in Boston. Individual programs address distinct issues, yet converge to form a coherent whole. A summary of our record of positive impact includes:


Homelessness Prevention

  • A Lift Up Program – devotes resources to identifying and assisting families and individuals who are at risk of homelessness, as it is far more caring and cost-effective to intervene before someone needs to be re-housed. CMS uses early intervention, flexible support, and a multi-year strength-based approach to help single mothers with dependent children address barriers which jeopardize economic and housing stability. We work with 20 women each year; since 2008 60 families have been serviced in this two-year program and 90% remain housed. The benefits of the program extend to the children as well – more than 223 children to date – who are active participants in the family transformation, and attendees at Resource Group meetings.

  • Emergency Needs Network: Information, Referral and Advocacy – provides financial assistance to low- and moderate-income families to help them maintain stable housing and prevent homelessness. The network provides urgent help, through local community-based agencies, providing assistance for resources and services such as health benefits, SSI applications, fuel assistance, housing resources, vocational counseling, job search programs, and child care. In FY 2014 we provided 12 families with rent arrearages, 24 families with heating assistance, and 200+ individuals with information and referral services, working collaboratively with local agencies to reduce duplication of services.

Volunteering and Community Service

To stay aligned with our organizational priorities, community volunteering is increasingly focused on our homelessness prevention program and participants. The initiatives are opportunities for people to learn about themselves as both givers and receivers, and to learn about serious social and economic challenges in the inner city – educating them to appreciate the strength of diverse communities and their inhabitants. Volunteers oftentimes work side by side with the people impacted.

  • Boston Urban Outreach – youth and adults nationwide take part in service projects in Boston neighborhoods and learn first-hand about social justice issues. In the past 5 years, BUO has conducted hundreds of mission experiences with 7,000 participants, impacting 140,000 lives.

  • COAT BOSTON – each fall since 2009 individual and corporate partners collect and/or donate and then distribute new, warm winter coats, hats and gloves to at-risk children and youth in Greater Boston. In November 2014 we delivered coats to 2,000 economically disadvantaged children and youth.

  • Christmas Shop – each December volunteers distribute toys, books, household goods and clothing items to families in our homelessness prevention programs and clients of our community partners in crisis. In December 2014 225 volunteers gathered to distribute thousands of gifts to over 4,200 children and adults.

  • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and Learning – volunteers of all ages honor the memory of Dr. King by serving at sites in Boston. The January 2015 effort impacted the lives of 3,600 individuals.

  • School Partnerships – working in some of the poorest schools in Boston, with a high rate of children performing below expectations. In 2014 volunteers provided academic mentoring, social and recreational activities, as well as maintenance of building and grounds at four schools in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury. 

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

We know that comprehensive evaluation is critical to understanding whether our initiatives are meeting goals and the needs of participants in our programs. Increased participation each year is important but is not enough. For example, through a partnership with a team from Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work we are undertaking an in-depth evaluation of our Homelessness Prevention programs, effectiveness, outcomes to date and suggestions for improvement. We currently document each participant during an intake assessment evaluating social, economic and psychological factors, and then evaluate progress notes, and pre- and post-test results utilizing various assessment tools. As part of this analysis a Participant Tracking Project is being developed through the Salesforce record database that will be able to track both current and historical data, with the ability to migrate information outside the database system for reporting and analysis. When the formal evaluation is complete in 2015 we will modify our programs to attain stronger outcomes for individual participants and the program as a whole. It is not enough to simply offer programs and services, but we want to ensure that they have the greatest impact, both short- and long-term, for participants.


CMS currently uses survey instruments to evaluate performance of A Lift Up homelessness prevention program objectives. This two-year strength-based empowerment model for single mothers with dependent children is designed to interrupt homelessness by providing skills training and access to resources and services. The instruments are used at the beginning and end of each program year, beginning with a very thorough intake form which ensures that the applicant meets the program requirements, covering the following areas: contact information, housing history, amount and sources of income, education, employment history, mental and medical history, any legal encumbrances, and immigration status. By collecting all this information at the beginning, the Homelessness Prevention Director can help the participant set a baseline and create achievable goals during her time in the program, which are articulated in an Action Plan. Additional instruments include a pre and post-test on financial literacy and budgeting. At the end of each year, participants complete an End-of-Year Reflection, and both the participant and CMS staff complete an Assessment that covers performance on six objectives.


  • Objective 1) Housing Stability: Participants retain stable housing.

  • Objective 2) Economic Self-Sufficiency: Participants show improvement as demonstrated by numerical assessments.

  • Objective 3) Program Participation: Participants demonstrate consistent participation in program.

  • Objective 4) Action Plan and Budget: Participants create a unique Action Plan and household budget in consultation with staff and demonstrate compliance with the plan.

  • Objective 5) Financial Literacy: Participants undertake exercises to improve their financial literacy and budgeting skills.

  • Objective 6) Employment Readiness/Educational Achievement: Participants identify opportunities to increase their income and/or improve employability by meeting higher educational standards.


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Every day City Mission Society acts on its mission, to catalyze action to root out poverty in our neighborhoods. We realized in 2014 that our strengths could be bolstered by streamlining our service delivery through a focused effort on homelessness prevention. At FYE 2014 we documented high levels of success for participants in A Lift Up, our in-depth, multi-year homelessness prevention program, including the following:


OBJECTIVE 1 Housing Stability: 19 of our 20 participants remained housed or found new housing (95%), due to: intensive case management, limited financial assistance, financial literacy instruction, group support, and/or landlord/tenant mediation. One second year participant was in a shelter at the end of the program year but has since secured housing, and regularly participated in the program.


OBJECTIVE 2 Economic Self-Sufficiency: The Clinical Assessment was completed for all 11 first year participants when they entered the program to establish a baseline rating in four areas: Housing, Employment, Education/Training, and Motivation. The Assessment was again completed in June, 2014. Of the 11 participants, 10 showed increases in one of 4 areas (90%); five showed increase in two areas; 3 improved in three areas; and 2 participants showed gains in all four areas. The average increase in overall scoring was 34%.


OBJECTIVE 3 Program Participation: Participants attended monthly individual and group meetings at a rate of 62%. Attendance was down during the winter months, due to severe cold/bad weather. Phone and email contact increased during that time.


OBJECTIVE 4 Action Plan and Budget: All 20 participants (100%) completed their Action Plan and budget upon entering the program that were reviewed during each individual meeting with case managers. 18 of 20 participants completed at least one goal from their plan during the year (90%).


OBJECTIVE 5 Financial Literacy: Three Financial Literacy classes were held. All 20 participants were given a pre-test to establish a baseline level of knowledge of budgeting, credit, banking & other related topics. The post-test in June determined the level of knowledge gained by the participants and the efficacy of the instruction. Every participant who completed the post-test (18) gained at least 2 points on the test; average gain was 57%.


OBJECTIVE 6 Employment Readiness/Educational Achievement: As mentioned, all 20 participants completed or updated their Action Plans, which included goals for education/training, and employment. 14 were working (70%), 3 were in job search (15%), and 5 were attending school or training (25%). Nine participants (45%) increased their income over the prior year: one participant secured a full-time position with benefits at a local hospital, another secured a full-time position as a bilingual healthcare advisor, and three others have secured second jobs to supplement their income. One participant was able to get an increase in child support through the courts, and three received raises at their jobs.


While we have accomplished much and helped many in our 200 year history, we know our work will continue as long as there are poor individuals in danger of losing housing needing the unconditional help and hope that City Mission Society can give them. Our recently completed Strategic Plan provides the roadmap as we strive to meet the needs of as many as we can.