Mass General Brigham has the unique ability to make significant economic and social impacts in greater Boston. One way it does so is through the Anchor Program – championed by the MGB Board of Trustees – aimed at breaking down barriers to systemic change by creating more opportunities and promoting racial, gender and economic equality.

The Anchor Program’s pillars are real estate, hiring, purchasing, and investing, and all are represented in its inaugural project involving the state-of-the-art Phillip and Susan Ragon Building at Mass General, now under construction. Through the multi-year building process, the program seeks to offer meaningful change in the design and construction industries.

“It’s about being purposeful in how we do business,” says Nicholas Haney, public coordination and initiatives director, MGH Office of Planning and Construction. “We are looking to create opportunities to increase the diversity of those employed on-site, increasing the participation of minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses involved the project; and we are expanding opportunities for young adults in greater Boston to learn about and pursue careers in the construction and skilled trades industries.”

MGH Youth Scholars mystery panel
MGH Youth Scholars take part in a mystery career panel with panelists who work on the Ragon Building project.

To involve local school children, the Anchor Program joined forces with MGH Youth Scholars Program, which offers educational opportunities and life and career skills to students in grades 9-12 from Boston, Chelsea and Revere.

“We want students to be excited, engaged and confident as they potentially look to careers in health care and the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” says Debora Guimaraes, director, CCHI Youth Programs, which oversees the MGH Youth Scholars Program. “We build local pipelines for youth in these fields, and thanks to our partnership with the Anchor Program, we can add construction-related careers to the list.”

In April, a group of MGH Youth Scholars visited Mass General for a two-hour Mystery Career Panel, where they interviewed panelists who work on the Ragon Building project and then guessed the specific job of each person.

MGH Youth Scholars mystery panel
Mystery career panel participants

“You could see the student’s enthusiasm as they tried to guess everyone’s position,” says Amanda DiLando, project Anchor manager at Turner Walsh Construction, the company overseeing the building process. “I think it was wonderful that so many different roles within our industry were represented. It was a fun, interactive way to expose these kids to jobs they may not have known existed.”

Guimaraes says, “What’s great about the Ragon project is that construction is going on for seven years. A freshman who started with us last year will get to see the process unfold over their entire high school career. So, it’s longitudinal; we will expose the students to new aspects in the building process each year.”

The interaction with area youth continues in June when a group of ninth grade MGH Youth Scholars will visit the Cambridge Street construction site.

“This is a wonderful collaboration,” says Sally Mason Boemer, executive vice president of MGH Administration and MGH/MGPO chief financial officer. “This project will help Mass General Brigham identify important lessons to utilize when scaling our anchor strategy and expanding to other projects and areas across the health system. There are exciting things ahead.”