Thank you for choosing TUGG's newest nonprofits!

your community. your vote.

Thousands got out the vote to determine the newest nonprofits to join the TUGG portfolio. Please welcome Level Ground Mixed Martial ArtsSmall Fry, and Youth Hub, our newest portfolio organizations!

These new nonprofit organizations will compete at TUGG's Tech Gives Back Afterparty on Thursday, September 17 for $70k in grant funding.  They will canvas the crowd, pitching their mission and business model, and TUGGers will vote for the nonprofit with whom they feel most engaged. The winner will take home $50k and the runners up $10k.  Three returning organizations will also compete - A Bed for Every Child, Catie's Closet, and Resilient Coders. TUGG will grant a total of $140k in funding in one night.

TUGG's grants are an innovative and meaningful source of funds for TUGG's nonprofits that dramatically impact their programming. Thank you to TUGG's incredible sponsors from the tech community who make our grant funding possible.

TUGG Incoming Nonprofits


level ground mixed martial arts

"Where grit meets opportunity"


“It’s time to grow”


“Dramatically improve Boston’s neighborhoods from the inside.”

Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts

Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts led by Alexandra Fuller

Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts couples athletic training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Boxing with mentorship, academic advancement, and employment opportunities for urban youth. The program targets youth facing a disproportionate level of violence, poverty, and lack of access to education.

Why Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)? MMA espouses the values of respect, discipline, and resilience among students both on and off the mat. These core tenets are key to developing trust both among peers and between students and adults.

How does it work? Level Ground provides after-school programming for high school students that incorporates life skills and professional development mentorship, academic tutoring sessions, and 2 hours of challenging athletic training. Level Ground works to place high school seniors in a college or technical degree, workforce development program, or meaningful employment directly after high school. To date, 100% of Level Ground seniors have entered college or meaningful employment.

In addition to its after school programming, Level Ground supports three middle school and high school in-school programs from which the most committed students feed to the after school program.

Most recently, Level Ground has incorporated earned income into its business model through a Corporate Bootcamp program that provides MMA-fitness as well as women’s self defense programs to corporate clients.  The program is led by certified youth instructors, providing meaningful employment to Level MMA students while also supporting program costs. Want to hire them to work with your company? Learn more here.

Small Fry

Small Fry led by Cecilia Foxworthy

Small Fry is a social enterprise that creates economic opportunity for young people and small businesses in under-resourced urban communities. The program works with two constituents: local small business owners struggling with online business growth and young people faced with weak job prospects.

Through Small Fry, young people earn income and gain valuable and transferable online marketing skills while building their resumes.  They also contribute to economic growth and a more diverse business landscape in their local communities.

How does it work?  Small Fry works with partner school and youth organizations to gain referrals of low-income youth aged 17-25.  Youth receive online marketing training and on-going coaching as apprentices on the Small Fry team.  Small Fry matches this workforce with small businesses in the community whose marketing needs match the young marketers' skills. Small businesses receive affordable marketing services, maximizing their web presence and increasing online engagement to help drive revenue growth.

Small Fry is a community development platform that optimizes marketing strategies for businesses at an accessible price point and develops vocational skills for a creative and adaptable online generation that lacks opportunity to engage in high-growth industries.  

The Small Fry business model is set up to sustain itself primarily from earned income from its small business clients.

Note:  Small Fry was piloted in the South Bronx and Harlem, New York before Cecilia was accepted to Mass Challenge and set up shop in Boston.  Small Fry’s first cohort will be Boston born and bred.

Youth Hub

Youth Hub Boston led by Rachele Gardner

Youth Hub is a youth and community development platform with a mission to dramatically improve employment and career readiness for under-resourced populations.

Youth Hub provides programming to neighborhood youth around explicit employment and job-readiness goals for youth to develop and maintain jobs. The program also trains youth leaders from the local community as researchers, and employs them in targeted outreach and door-to-door neighborhood surveying in partnership with local development programs and community initiative partners.   From this data, partners are armed with the statistics and knowledge they need to help improve efficacy of existing programs and set goals and outcomes local to a specific neighborhood.  

Through Youth Hub, local youth receive job readiness training and access to employment opportunities; youth leaders are employed; and local organizations receive valuable neighborhood data and insight at a micro-level.

As an example, in its pilot cohort in the Codman Square neighborhood of Dorchester, Youth Hub learned, by training and employing student researchers in door-to-door surveying, that only 1% of local youth knew about opportunities available through the nationally recognized and established Year Up program. The information the program gained in the process was instrumental to understanding how to bridge the gap between successful community development programs and local youth engagement.  Through its work in Codman Square, Youth Hub aims to achieve 60% youth employment in the neighborhood by 2019.

As the program scales and develops, the Youth Hub business model allows for earned income as its youth researchers can be hired to conduct surveys and physical outreach for any organization conducting neighborhood research.