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Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

Mission StatementMORE »

The mission of Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) is to preserve Castle Square Apartments as affordable housing for low and moderate income residents into perpetuity, and provide comprehensive community and social supports for the families of Castle Square Apartments and the surrounding community. 

Mission Statement

The mission of Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) is to preserve Castle Square Apartments as affordable housing for low and moderate income residents into perpetuity, and provide comprehensive community and social supports for the families of Castle Square Apartments and the surrounding community. 


FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $1,013,786.00
Projected Expense $1,013,786.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Elder Programming
  • Square Roots
  • Square Tech
  • Teen Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

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


Overview

Mission Statement

The mission of Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) is to preserve Castle Square Apartments as affordable housing for low and moderate income residents into perpetuity, and provide comprehensive community and social supports for the families of Castle Square Apartments and the surrounding community. 


Background Statement

Originally constructed in the 1960’s as a 192 unit mid-rise-tower to serve as low income housing in Boston’s South End, the Castle Square complex underwent a change in ownership in 1987, prompting concern by the tenants, many of whom had lived there since the beginning, that affordable housing would be eliminated. These dire circumstances prompted a critical need to organize, securing resident’s homes, and ensuring the continuity of affordable housing in the area between Boston’s South End and Chinatown. The Castle Square Tenants Organization, Inc. was founded, and successfully negotiated long-term affordability for the housing complex. Today the complex is a 500 Unit Section 221D development that houses approximately 1500 individuals. The complex underwent a significant renovation in 2011 creating a state of the art teen and community center (complete with tech and media room and restaurant grade kitchen) and implemented a Deep Energy Retrofit, with the goal of cutting energy use in the complex by as much as 72%.

Sandwiched between the affluence of the South End, and abutting significantly under-resourced communities consisting disproportionately of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, CSTO is located within a complicated cultural and economic environment. Approximately 96% of CSTO’s residents receive government rent subsidies. Residents range in age from newborn to 90 years old and reflect a mix of families, young adults and elderly individuals. 73% of our residents have lived at CSTO for 10 years or more and 74% identify themselves as Chinese, with the next largest groups being African-American and Haitian (8% each). 72% of our residents report the language they speak most often at home is Cantonese followed by 20% who speak English at home.



Impact Statement

Recent accomplishments:

1. Construction and opening of the Castle Square Community Center, July 2012 – a state of the art, green friendly building with the capacity to offer programs to youth, adults and elders, in a variety of spaces, including computer labs, classrooms, and a commercial grade kitchen. Increased the capacity of community programming

2. Property renovation and Deep Energy Retrofit, began in 2010, finished in 2012 – Renovation of 500 units, including new kitchens, bathrooms, doors, and windows, with the goal of significantly reducing energy usage, and responding to resident needs, as expressed through a series of focus groups. Renovations also included installation of energy efficient appliances, heating and cooling systems, and solar thermal equipment.

4. Conducted a comprehensive needs assessment in 2012 with an outside consultant, including surveys of over 100 residents, focus groups with parents and community members, and an environmental scan to identify neighboring organizations and establish partnerships.

 
Organizational Goals:

1. Preserve affordable housing for Castle Square residents.

2. Offer programs and services to improve the lives of Castle Square residents and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, specifically focused on academic success and workforce development.

3. Growth! Expand program capacity through partnerships and fundraising, and offer improved programs every year.



Needs Statement

 Based in research and first-hand experience with the community we serve, Castle Square Tenants Organization understands that youth, ages 16-24, who are involved in positive youth development activities and working in interesting jobs are much more likely to succeed in school and much less likely to commit acts of violence or become victimized by it.  Through technology, art, and leadership opportunities we empower young people to think critically, excel academically, and improve their community. Our youth increase their social capital, responsibility, work experiences and develop life skills needed to become accomplished adults.

 
   Approximately 96% of CSTO’s residents receive government rent subsidies.  Residents range in age from newborn to 90 years old and reflect a mix of families, young adults and elderly individuals. The tenacity and resilience of the families of Castle Square is nothing short of remarkable.  The young adults in our programs are creative, excited about technology and have an entrepreneurial mindset.  With support we can build workforce skills, spark a foundation of learning, increase employment opportunities, and make our young people more equiped for postsecondary education.

 


CEO Statement

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Board Chair Statement

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Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- Chinatown/ Leather District
City of Boston- South End/Bay Village
The Castle Square Tenant's Organization is located between Boston's South End and Chinatown.  

Organization Categories

  1. Housing, Shelter - Homeowners & Tenants Associations
  2. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  3. -

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

Under Development

Programs

Elder Programming

CSTO Elder Programming  consists of daily activities and programming such as ELL classes, grocery shopping assistance, Food For Life (food education),Tai Chi, and Ballroom dancing. 50-70 elders participate in programs on a weekly basis.
Budget  $20,000.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other Services for Specific Populations
Population Served Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees Families
Program Short-Term Success 

Provide daily activities and classes including ELL classes, grocery shopping assistance, Food For Life (food education),Tai Chi, and Ballroom dancing for 50-70 on a weekly basis.

Program Long-Term Success 
Program long-term success is determined by CSTO's ability to increase activity opportunities and provide support for “activities for daily living” to CSTO’s aging population.
Program Success Monitored By  Client satisfaction surveys, anecdotal feedback and feedback from extended family members.
Examples of Program Success 
Sixty elders increased their activity in FY13 by participating in a CSTO activity, and  received support for “activities for daily living” increasing quality of life and client satisfaction.

Square Roots

 

Square Roots (Grades K2-8) is an EEC licensed after school and summer learning program that provides a safe and healthy environment where children are challenged to grow as learners. Our focus areas are:

Academic Success & Homework Help – with permission from parents, we use information (report cards, standardized test scores, and teachers’ recommendations) from partnering schools to identify the areas that our students need extra support in. We also have volunteer tutors, from local colleges, that provide homework help.

Enrichment Activities – We purposefully integrate art, technology, and physical education into our program in order to: promote creativity and problem solving; use relevant and contemporary platforms for learning; and to help students develop and maintain healthy relationships with their peers.

School and Family Engagement – our program provides a holistic approach to education and care by bridging the gap between home, school, and community. Our well trained, bilingual staff builds relationships with students’ teachers, school administrators, and parents in order to provide the best, most informed, care possible. We offer family orientations, bi-monthly open houses, individual parent meetings, student progress reports, and participate in community partnership meetings at our schools.


 

Budget  $162,688.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served At-Risk Populations Children Only (5 - 14 years) Families
Program Short-Term Success 

Meet enrollment capacity of 52 students each year, provide a consistent, supportive child development opportunity  for families in the Castle Square Tenant Organization and the surrounding communities.

Program Long-Term Success 

Provide a safe and healthy environment where children (k-5th grade) are stimulated and challenged to grow as learners.

Program Success Monitored By 

Ongoing program evaluation consists of client satisfaction surveys, pre and post testing of students, and formal end of programming data collection evaluation. All feedback is compiled and reviewed by program managers, who disseminate the feedback to staff as appropriate and make any necessary program adjustments.

Examples of Program Success 

In FY13 Square Roots had 100% rate of parental participation and approximately 40% of teachers participated in the teacher log. 60% of enrolled students demonstrated an increase in academic success. Approximately 90 unique individuals were provided with a safe and healthy environment where children (k-5th grade) were stimulated and challenged to grow as learners.


Square Tech

Operating year round, located in the heart of the Castle Square community in Boston’s South End, and a licensed Microsoft refurbisher, Square Tech’s purposes are:

1. to provide youth with basic hands-on IT training;

2. develop youths’ 21st century skills; and

3. help bridge the economic digital divide.

Recruiting juniors and seniors from Castle Square, surrounding neighborhoods, and Boston Public Schools, Square Tech provides innovative vocational training to youth in the IT field.

Square Tech collects unwanted computers, otherwise headed for the landfill, from our partners throughout Boston. Youth then apply their learned IT training to refurbish and resell these overhauled computers for 1/3 the cost of the market rate to low-income families, effectively increasing affordable access to technology to some of Boston’s most unconnected communities.

Services Offered

-free diagnosis for all computers;

-house calls for Castle Square residents-please call ahead to schedule

Budget  $18,000.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other Services for Specific Populations
Population Served Adults Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees Families
Program Short-Term Success 

Provide 35 adults with a variety of computer courses for beginners focusing on computer basics and Internet skills, accounting skills and access to functioning computers.

Program Long-Term Success  Program long-term success is determined by adult mastery of basic computer skills, computer confidence and independence.
Program Success Monitored By  Program success is determined by adult mastery of basic computer skills and computer independence, as determined by continual client feedback and evaluation.
Examples of Program Success  In FY13, 25 adults participated in a variety of computer courses for beginners focusing on computer basics and Internet skills.

Teen Program

Based in research and first-hand experience with the community we serve, Castle Square Tenants Organization understands that youth, ages 14-19, who are involved in positive youth development activities and working in interesting jobs are much more likely to succeed in school and much less likely to commit acts of violence or become victimized by it. Through technology, art, and leadership opportunities we empower young people to think critically, excel academically, and strengthen their community.

Our project-based, youth development program hires young adults to participate in college and career focused workshops. Our Peer Leaders develop 21st century skills through a series of art and vocational training workshops, including: film, video, graphic design, entrepreneurship, goal setting and financial literacy. Held in CSTO’s safe spaces, our young people develop healthy relationships with their peers and adults while learning the necessary skills to become successful, thriving members of society.

Budget  $210,000.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Leadership
Population Served At-Risk Populations Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Families
Program Short-Term Success 

Provide structured educational and recreational activities for high school youth ages 14-18 to strengthen academic skills through the following activities: After-school tutoring, College Access Information, Job Readiness/Work Readiness, Entrepreneurship MCAS and SAT Preparation Classes, and Computer Science and Multimedia classes.

Program Long-Term Success  Increase High School graduation rates and college bound students among the target population.
Program Success Monitored By 

Ongoing program evaluation consists of client satisfaction surveys, pre and post testing of students, and formal end of programming data collection evaluation. All feedback is compiled and reviewed by program managers, who disseminate the feedback to staff as appropriate and make any necessary program adjustments.

For our programs that target youth, program success is dependent on close communication between CSTO staff, students, parents and the student’s academic instructors. Embedded within the structure of each youth program are opportunities to coordinate care and ensure goal consistency. Utilizing quarterly report cards, teacher communication logs, parent conferencing, and grade analysis, all aid in goal setting and provide a mechanism to measure academic improvement. Course corrections can be made throughout the program to adjust to the presenting needs of the enrolled students.

Examples of Program Success 

Forty unique high school youth ages 14-18 were provided structured educational and recreational activities to strengthen academic skills through the following activities: After-school tutoring, College Access Information, Job Readiness/Work Readiness, MCAS and SAT Preparation Classes, and Computer classes and Graphic Design.

Ten young adults learned the necessary skills to conduct basic PC repair.

Square Tech interns in FY13 repaired one hundred computers for CSTO residents


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Deborah Backus
CEO Term Start Aug 2003
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience

Deborah Backus has served as the Executive Director of Castle Square Tenant's Organization since August of 2003. Backus has over 20 years of experience with diverse cultures, developers, Management Companies, city, state and federal agencies in housing policy, asset management, joint venture ownership entity between residents and private developers, capacity and leadership development. As a self­ starter and team player she brings intense enthusiasm, creativity and a positive attitude to all work environments. She has proven leadership that is evidenced by her ability to assist resident associations successfully with the implementation of their primary goals and objectives.

Backus was a former resident of Castle Square Apartments, a HUD assisted project base section 8 development and multicultural community. As one of the founders of Castle Square Tenants Organization, Inc. she served on the executive board of directors for 8 years as Co-President.

She was instrumental in the five years that it took to successfully develop ajoint- venture ownership entity between the residents and a private developer. She helped Secure HUD, DHCD, MFHA and City of Boston financing of $50 million to purchase and rehab 500 units and 10 commercial properties and securing funding of 1.9 million dollars to establish Castle Square Charitable Trust.  

The Charitable Trust of the organization's purpose and mission is to ensure Castle Square Apartments remains affordable, provide operating expenses to sustain resident association and provide educational and social programs for residents. The Chair of Tenant Management Committee is to work in partnership with Management Company in the decision making process of Castle Square Apartments . Established an on-site computer-technology center for adults and children was developed. CSTO spearheaded "South End Coalition for a Neighborhood Supermarket" Wollaston Supermarket" opened November 1994.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Casey Bell Director of Community Programs --
Debbie Campbell Asset Management Specialist --
Jane Canton Chief Financial Officer --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Certificate of Appreciation Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources 2013
Social Justice Award Chinese Progressive Association 2013
Arthur F. Howe Community Service Award Ellis Neighborhood Association 2012
Green Residential Award for Climate Leadership Boston Green Awards 2012
Innovation in Green Design Awards, Honorable Mention U.S. Green Building Council, Massachusetts Chapter 2012
LEED Platinum Certification Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design 2012
Vanguard Award Winner National Affordable Housing Management Association 2012
Joseph P. Kennedy Congressional Award 1992

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

CSTO firmly believes that working collaboratively builds vibrant, safe communities and produces greater outcomes for those we serve. We work closely with the following organizations on a variety of programs and initiatives:

Ben Franklin Institute of Technology

Wentworth Institute of Technology

Northeastern University

Bunker Hill Community College

IBA-Cacique at Villa Victoria

South End Technology Center

Tufts School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine

Josiah Quincy Elementary, Middle and Upper Schools

Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center

Boston Elderly Commission

The Art Connection

Mass Housing/Mass Impact

Technology Goes Home

The Irish International Immigrant Center

Strong Women/Strong Girls

The Girl Scouts

E Inc

Health Resources in Action (HRIA)

Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC)
The Youth Jobs Coalition (YJC)

Fenway High School

We are members of the following groups and coalitions:

Citizen’s Housing & Planning Association

Chinese Progressive Association

Youth Worker’s Alliance

South End Business Association

Ellis Neighborhood Association

Computers For Youth

South End Lower/Roxbury Safety Task Force

Allies Working with Asian-American Youth (A-WAY)

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 7
Number of Part Time Staff 8
Number of Volunteers 15
Number of Contract Staff 4
Staff Retention Rate % --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 5
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 3
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 2
Other (if specified): multi-ethnic
Gender Female: 10
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

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

Risk Management Provisions

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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

Governance


Board Chair Ms. Ann Moy
Board Chair Company Affiliation Resident
Board Chair Term Oct 1994 - Oct 2015
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Hei Ling Chen Resident Voting
Mary Goon Resident Voting
Ann Moy CSTO Resident, Middle School Teacher Voting
Lily Seeto Resident Voting
Nhi Le Tang Resident Voting
Terrance Woolfork Resident Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Marla Curtis Architect, --
Julia Gittleman Non-profit consultant, evaluator NonVoting
Chu Huang the Youth Program Associate, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center NonVoting
Grey Lee United States Green Building Council NonVoting
Danielle Martin Knowledge Manager at Intel Computer Clubhouse Network NonVoting
Thaddeus Miles Director, MassImpact NonVoting
Erik Miller Assistant Director, Center for Community and Learning Partnerships at Wentworth NonVoting
Nick Pirelli Director of Student Involvement and Leadership, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology NonVoting
Lisa Swain Operations Coordinator, ABCD/SNAP NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 5
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 7
Male: 1
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 4
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 88%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 80%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Community Outreach / Community Relations
  • Facilities
  • Management

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $1,013,786.00
Projected Expense $1,013,786.00
Form 990s

2015 Form 990

2014 Form 990

2013 Form 990

2012 Form 990

2011 Form 990

2010 Form 990

Audit Documents

2015 Audited Financials

2014 Audited Financials

2013 Audited Financials

2012 Audited Financials

2011 Audited Financials

2010 Audited Financials

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Revenue $1,246,784 $569,667 $1,018,337
Total Expenses $806,553 $739,321 $885,583

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $55,900 $75,684 $31,112
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $1,126,394 $387,892 $503,636
Investment Income, Net of Losses $62,675 $104,891 $483,024
Membership Dues $1,815 $1,200 $565
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Program Expense $735,545 $669,717 $781,662
Administration Expense $67,348 $56,124 $103,921
Fundraising Expense $3,660 $13,480 $0
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.55 0.77 1.15
Program Expense/Total Expenses 91% 91% 88%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 7% 18% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Assets $8,157,418 $7,789,596 $7,957,132
Current Assets $4,946,782 $4,696,682 $4,962,002
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $68,507 $28,023 $25,905
Total Net Assets $8,088,911 $7,761,573 $7,931,227

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value $3,750,000.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 6.00

Capital Campaign

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

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 72.21 167.60 191.55

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.
 
Per the nonprofit: Please note the increased revenue in FY11 is a result of CSTO serving as a passthrough entity for a construction grant from the Department of Energy Resources. The increased revenue in FY12 is a result of one-time developer fees collected when the property was refinanced. The developer fees have subsequently been held in a restricted trust to ensure financial stability for the organization in years to come.  

Documents


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.

Impact

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?

With a substantial investment in our property and program spaces, a new Program Director, stable and growing programs and strong finances, Castle Square Tenants Organization is in a great position to build for an even better future. We are seeking a consultant to engage our key constituencies (Board, staff, residents, partners, funders, program participants) in a robust strategic planning process. We want a Plan that is user-friendly and actionable -- one that will ensure that CSTO’s excellent programs have an even greater impact upon the lives of residents and participants. Enhancing the already strong relationships between residents, staff and Board and Property Management, the plan will help ensure that CSTO continues to understand resident and neighborhood strengths and needs and designs and implements programs and services (and potentially new housing) accordingly.


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

It is important for CSTO to review where we have been, where we are, and, where we want to be in the future. We are working on creating new strategies that will help us achieve the following goals that include, but are not limited to:

1.    Re-affirming and/or re-defining the organization’s mission, vision, values and strategic direction;

2.    Analyzing organizational and programmatic strengths, areas for improvement and opportunities for growth (in areas, such as: Programming, marketing/branding, board development and affordable housing development).  

3.    Establishing a Theory of Change for the organization; Articulating 3-5 strategic goals (with metrics of success and milestones defined); and delineating concrete strategies to achieve these goals.

4.    Developing systems and tools that make it easier to assess impact and progress in implementing our strategic Plan.


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

Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) formed as a response to a change in ownership in 1987 that threatened the affordability of homes for more than 1500 residents living in a 500-unit, multi-family low-income housing complex (The Castle Square Apartments) that was developed in the 1960’s in Boston’s South End Neighborhood. Facing challenging political obstacles, CSTO organized a multi-year campaign to secure residents homes. In 1992, the organization successfully negotiated long-term affordability for the complex and in 2010, CSTO and its resident controlled Board, became a majority owner of Castle Square Apartments. Demonstrating strength and conviction, CSTO has established a long term partnership with Winn Companies to: ensure strong management of our property; monitor operations; develop capital plans to improve the condition of the property; set policies and procedures, prepare annual property operating budgets. This partnership has been critical for establishing long-term financial sustainability for the organization and housing innovations. 

In June 2012, in partnership with Winn, CSTO completed the nation’s largest Deep Energy Retrofit on an existing affordable housing community. Earning a LEED Platinum Certification (the nation’s highest green building rating) by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) , our renovation has achieved a remarkable 72 percent reduction in energy usage at the Castle Square Apartments, along with parallel cost savings. The redevelopment of the property also spurred the creation of: a state of the art youth and community center, complete with a technology and media room; a classroom space for our elementary education programs; a gym, a versatile teen space, and a kitchen facility.

A 501c3 organization with a resident controlled Board, CSTO’s focus is on preserving affordable housing for low-and moderate-income residents and providing high quality resident services and educational programming, especially for low-income youth in the areas of technology and academic achievement. Under the leadership of Executive Director Deborah Backus, CSTO has become widely recognized as a well-managed and innovative affordable housing organization, especially in the area of green building.

Our Awards and Honors

Community Service Award, presented by Police Commissioner William B. Evans, 2015

Social Justice Award, presented by The Chinese Progressive Association, 2013

The Green Residential Award: Climate Leadership, presented by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, 2012

The Arthur F. Howe Community Service Award, presented by The Ellis South End Neighborhood Association, 2012

EPA Award: presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for superior energy performance. EPA’s energy star use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings across the nation, 2014


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

CSTO views evaluation and community engagement/participation as essential components for informing our work. Towards that end, in 2012, CSTO implemented a community needs assessment, in order to better understand what residents wanted and needed for programming and services in their community. Two methodologies were used to gather this information: a community-wide survey and targeted focus groups. In addition, an environmental scan was conducted to assess what existing services and potential partners existed in the surrounding neighborhood(s). 

Based upon key findings that indicated that programming for children and youth were the greatest community need; CSTO has established a primary short-term objective to strengthen the programs for young people that our survey respondents and focus group participants indicated were most important:

●      After-school tutoring

●      College Access Information

●      Job Readiness/Work Readiness

●      MCAS and SAT Preparation Classes

●      Computer classes and Graphic Design

 

Spurred by this community input, we hired a new Director of Community Programs; Casey Bell who has extensive experience in leading education focused youth development programs. Under Casey’s leadership, we have increased structure to our programs and pushed for improved outcomes measurement, fine tune logic models and simplify outputs, outcomes, indicators and measures. The long-term goal is to track and use data more effectively in order to: better understand successes and challenges; illustrate program(s) impact(s); support staff; and make changes based upon data and participant feedback.

In 2016, CSTO is releasing a Request for Services to hire a Consultant to guide a community-driven Strategic Planning process, which is scheduled to start in the Spring of 2016 and the focus of our current grant request. This process will help CSTO to refine our mission, vision, values and our long-term strategic direction for the net 3-5 years. We anticipate that the Plan will help CSTO’s Board better operationalize its overwhelming commitment to helping families obtain better life and furthering opportunities for children and youth through education.


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

Pre-work: December 2015-January 2016

Draft RFP for Strategic Planning, Develop List of Potential Consultants, Draft Fundraising Concept Paper and Proposal

CSTO’s Board (which is comprised of 100% residents who represent the community’s demographics) demonstrates an overwhelming commitment to helping families obtain better life and furthering opportunities for children and youth through education. The Board has demonstrated enthusiastic support for the strategic planning process and in December of 2015 unanimously approved the launch of key steps to prepare for the process, which included:

●      Drafting a Request for Services for Strategic Planning Consultants;

●      Developing a list of potential consultants or agencies with the skill and cultural competence to lead the process with Asian and African American urban populations;

●      Creating a matrix to evaluate the proposals received; and

●      Writing a capacity building grant to secure the funding to develop and implement the Plan.

Release RFP and Select Strategic Planning Consultant: February - March 2016

We have plans to release the RFP in early February. A strategic planning sub-committee of the CSTO board and staff will review the proposals and will choose a limited number of contractors for on-site presentations in late February based upon our Matrix (Attachment B) and factors that include but not limited to: Qualifications and experience of consultant; Knowledge and experience in our core areas (affordable housing, education, technology and youth development); Cultural competency and focus on equity and racial justice; Experience working with grassroots, urban and multicultural groups; Specific plans and methodology used to perform the services, including systems for keeping track of progress; Experience with facilitation and capacity building; and Project Cost(s). Finalists will be selected to make presentations to the Board and we will select the consultant in early March based upon on the best value to CSTO and the quality of the proposal.

Conduct Strategic Planning: March - May 2016

We will launch the Strategic Planning process in late March or Early April with expectations to begin to implement the Plan in the late Spring, early summer 2016.

Launch Implementation of Strategic Planning Recommendations: June 2016