Help TUGG bring new nonprofits into its portfolio!

Your cOMMUNITY. Your vote.  

Each year, TUGG adds three new start-up nonprofits to its portfolio to compete for grant funding at its Tech Gives Back afterparty. The TUGG community sources the nonprofits, votes at the afterparty, and funds the grants.  New this year, TUGGers will also vote for which nonprofits compete. This is your community; it should be your vote.  And the stakes are high.  The finalists that are selected to compete at the afterparty will be up for $70k in grant funding. The winner takes home $50k, the runners up take home $10k each. 

Team TUGG reviewed over 50 submissions and selected five that are distinctly "TUGG". A TUGG nonprofit is local to New England and serves under-resourced youth through entrepreneurship, education, or life experiences. They are also start ups, operating for less than five years. Importantly, a TUGG nonprofit is led by a rockstar CEO (Executive Director) who is tackling difficult to solve community problems in an innovative way, with an efficient model that has the potential to scale and create widespread impact. 


Review the selections below and vote for 1 nonprofit. You only get one vote.  If you try to game the system, we will nullify your votes. Trust. The nonprofits in the top 3 will join the portfolio.  Voting ends at 11:59pm on Friday, September 4. 

TUGG Portfolio Finalists


"Building Community Leaders"

First Teacher

“Parenting is the hardest job in the world.  It’s best done collectively.”

level ground mixed martial arts

"Where grit meets opportunity"


“It’s time to grow”


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


Coaching4Change led by Marquis Taylor

Coaching4Change provides innovative after school programming in Massachusetts school districts by engaging elementary and middle school students in extended hour schooling while also providing academic support, leadership, and employment opportunities for at-risk high school students in the same school district.

How does it work? Coaching4Change has two main programs for high school students - a Coach Leadership Academy and a Youth Sports Leadership Program.

The Coach Leadership Academy matches high school students with college mentors through whom the high schoolers learn organizational and study skills.  They apply these skills as coaches and teachers in after school programs at their local elementary and middle schools, where they are employed to organize and lead participation in sports-related games and drills.  

The Youth Leadership Program is an apprenticeship program through which high school students learn to plan and implement a sporting event at their school, including recruiting teams, securing space, creating and managing a budget, buying inventory for concessions, managing concessions, hiring referees, and overseeing the event itself to ensure that it is both successful and profitable. This is often the first business experience students receive.

For school districts, Coaching4Change provides relevant and appropriate programming - at a meaningful cost advantage - for a wide range of students from grade 3 all the way to high school seniors.  Elementary and middle school students benefit from being mentored by kids from their community while also engaging in physical fitness and extended hour schooling. Coaching4Change’s at-risk high school students benefit by gaining mentorship, academic support, and development opportunities, all of which help them stay engaged through to graduation and beyond, while also supporting their own local communities.

Coaching4Change piloted its program in Brockton and is adding New Bedford for the 2015-2016 school year.  

First Teacher

First Teacher led by Dinah Shepherd

First Teacher has created a model for parents to engage in the early educational development of their children, preparing them for kindergarten and setting the tone for lifelong engagement.  Institutional pre-k involvement has gained momentum and attention; it is also an expensive proposition. First Teacher is focused where education begins - in the home.

First Teacher’s model focuses on grassroots community efforts, bringing parents from the same neighborhood together to collaborate and learn from each other. This sounds simple, but the work of First Teacher is in reweaving parent and family networks in a time when all parents are exhausted and spread too thin already so that families can work together to make sure all their children are ready to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

Executive Director Dinah Shepherd says it best, “The fact is, there are are parents living in low income neighborhoods who, despite circumstance, are actively engaged in their children’s education at the earliest stages and have raised older children with great educational success. They are an unbelievable, untapped, and affordable resource for other parents.”

How does it work?  First Teacher employs parent leaders to lead neighborhood cohorts in monthly workshops around school readiness and monthly playdates to build community.  First Teacher also organizes three annual events to celebrate community, recruit parents, and provide workshop space to teach engagement strategies for parents.

First Teacher has the qualities of an organic movement.  From its first pilot program, engaging 7 families, the program ended its first school year (2014-2015) with 25 families in the Dudley Square neighborhood.  The goal is to have parent led cohorts in every Boston neighborhood in 5 years.

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.

Vote Now!

your community. your vote.

One vote per person.  If you try to game the system, we will find you and nullify your votes.  Techies are smart like that.

Voting ends at 11:59PM on Friday, September 4.

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Select ONE nonprofit to join the portfolio.