Boston Nonprofit Launches Commonwealth Places Campaign to Expand Community Program Space in South End

$50,000 goal to win matching grant through MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places Initiative

May 14, 2018


Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077 (cell)

Jonathan Berk, Patronicity, 617-750-6008

Alex Bounfiglio, More Than Words, 781-314-9058

More Than Words
(image courtesy of Peter Rose + Partners)

MassDevelopment and the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity have launched a new Commonwealth Places campaign with More Than Words (MTW), a Boston social enterprise nonprofit. As a job training and youth development program, MTW empowers more than 250 system-involved youth – those who are in courts or the foster care system, homeless, or out of school – each year to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a $2 million bookselling business. This Commonwealth Places campaign will support the expansion of the organization’s existing location in at 242 E. Berkley Street in Boston’s South End neighborhood. The new space will include a used bookstore stocked with popular titles and staffed by youth, community event space for author readings, film screenings, and community events, and a marketplace featuring varied products from mission-driven businesses around the country. A first-floor operations warehouse with street level windows will show visitors how the youth at MTW process millions of used books a year as they run their business. The expansion will help MTW serve 60 percent more individuals every year.

“More Than Words provides invaluable resources for our youth, and emphasizes the power of work and  building solid habits and skills to help its graduates go on to achieve measurable and positive outcomes,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “We’re pleased to support the organization’s expansion through Commonwealth Places, which will help MTW reach more youth in Boston with this constructive model.”

This expansion is supported by a strong community, including lead gifts from Liberty Mutual and the Richard & Susan Smith Family Foundation, and this crowd funding effort will help close out the campaign.  If the crowd funding goal of $50,000 is met by June 30 at midnight, the project will win a matching grant with funds from MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places program. Learn more and donate at

“We have a model that works to help our most vulnerable youth hit measurable, positive outcomes in education, work, and life,” said Jodi Rosenbaum, Founder & CEO of More Than Words. “With this expansion, we will be able to offer this transformative experience to even more youth, while shifting perception about their potential. Our community deserves a place like this, where customers and neighbors can come together with youth who are moving their lives forward.  We are grateful to our bold community of supporters and the Commonwealth Places Program for standing with More Than Words and our youth in this project.”

Commonwealth Places is a collaborative initiative from MassDevelopment and Patronicity that leverages public support for placemaking projects through crowdfunding and a matching grant from MassDevelopment. The program engages residents in the development of strategic projects in their towns and cities. In June 2017, MassDevelopment announced $1 million in funding for the second year of the program, which has supported successful campaigns across the Commonwealth, from Northampton to Hyannis. Communities, nonprofits, and other entities can learn more about these successful projects, donate to ongoing campaigns, and apply at

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2017, MassDevelopment financed or managed 377 projects generating investment of more than $4.3 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create about 9,488 jobs and build or rehabilitate 1,863 residential units.

More Than Words is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business. Youth earn a job managing an online, retail, pop-up, and wholesale bookselling businesses that generates over $2.1M in gross sales, while developing critical skills and work experience. They simultaneously have a “YOU” job where they receive intensive case management to work towards personal goals. Once youth have experienced an intentional, habit-forming 6-12 months in the core Social Enterprise Program learning foundational employment skills, youth transition to MTW’s Graduate Program where they receive continued support for two years.