Hyde Square Task Force, Youth Volunteers to Receive NEFAC’s 2018 Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefac.org

The New England First Amendment Coalition will honor the Hyde Square Task Force in Boston with its 2018 Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award.

The Citizenship Award is given to New Englanders who have fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of its community or what its government is doing — or not doing — on its behalf.

A team of youth volunteers at the Hyde Square Task Force last year found a 1993 state mandate that required the owners of the TD Garden to hold fundraisers every year to benefit the city’s recreational facilities.

Under the supervision of Ken Tangvik, a director at the Hyde Square Task Force, the group of teenagers were investigating ways to pay for a new recreation center and ice skating rink in their neighborhood.

Youth volunteers from the Hyde Square Task Force during a recent press conference to share their findings. (Photo courtesy of HSTF)

Through public record requests, the teens found that the state mandate had been ignored for more than 20 years. The city, they determined, was owed $14 million, enough money to cover the cost of building a new rec center and rink.

TD Garden eventually agreed to pay $1.65 million to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. The state contributed $1 million to a new center and the city committed another $2 million. The Hyde Square Task Force volunteers are continuing to call for additional funding.

“This is an inspiring story of citizens using public record laws to benefit their community,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC executive director. “The Hyde Square Task Force and their youth volunteers showed the value of demanding government transparency and accountability.”

The Citizenship Award will be presented at NEFAC’s New England First Amendment Awards luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

NEW ENGLAND FIRST AMENDMENT AWARDS February 23, 2018 | 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. | Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel

During the luncheon, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker will be honored with the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment AwardTodd Wallack of The Boston Globe will receive the Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information AwardEd Harding of WCVB-Boston is the master of ceremonies.

The New England First Amendment Awards luncheon is part of the New England Newspaper & Press Association‘s winter convention. Tickets can be purchased here.

Sponsors, table hosts and other supporters include WBURWCVBThe Boston GlobeBoston UniversityBoston 25 NewsNortheastern UniversityUniversity of New HampshireRoger Williams UniversityPrince Lobel Tye LLPSaint Michael’s College and the University of Rhode Island.

The Hyde Square Task Force was founded in the late 1980s by a coalition of neighbors and community leaders who wanted to address the violence and economic and social challenges facing the Hyde/Jackson Square community in Jamaica Plain, a Boston neighborhood. The organization now engages more than 1,000 youth in college and career preparation, Afro-Latin arts and cultural enrichment, and community-building initiatives.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.