Esplanade Association Inc

Boston, MA   |  http://esplanade.org

Mission

The Esplanade Association is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, preserve natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural and recreational programs for everyone.

Ruling year info

2001

Executive Director

Michael Nichols

Main address

575 Boylston Street Suite 4R

Boston, MA 02116 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

04-3550635

NTEE code info

Environmental Beautification (C50)

Parks and Playgrounds (N32)

Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Services N.E.C. (A99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Esplanade is one of the area’s oldest and most popular parks, an oasis of nature in the City, a hive of healthy outdoor activity, particularly critical to the public during COVID, and the region’s most-used running path. The Esplanade as we know it today was largely created in 1910, although the oldest parts of the park date from the late 1800s. Years of heavy use, declining state budgets, a changing climate, and the sheer passage of time have taken their toll. The Esplanade Association was formed in 2001 because the park had fallen into a state of decline, and local community members recognized the need for a park friends group that could help to restore and enhance the Esplanade. It remains the only friends group focused solely on the park. Since our founding, EA has been the catalyst for over $28 million in park improvements. This work has been accomplished in collaboration with the state Department of Conservation and Restoration.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Equitable Health & Fitness Programming/Support

EA offers a wide range of activities encouraging active, healthy lifestyles for both adults and children. Our signature River Fit summer series and Frost Fit winter programs are open to participants of all ages and abilities. Our 5K accepts athletes of all ages and abilities. We also encourage family participation by hosting waves of runners with strollers and pets. In 2021, we provided 22% of 5K bibs at a discount for health care workers, first responders, and running groups comprised of athletes of color. EA also provides financial support for the maintenance of the Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox fields, which host thousands of children and adults for organized sports. Additionally, we engage children and families to stay active at our three playgrounds with children's programming and regular maintenance and improvements to keep our playgrounds safe, modern, and featuring inclusive play features.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Family relationships
People with disabilities
Economically disadvantaged people

EA employs 3 full-time and 2 seasonal horticulturists who work daily to improve the 64-acre park and its 15 ornamental garden beds, 1788 trees, and 3 ½ miles of shoreline.

The attractiveness of the trees, gardens, shade, and shoreline are a large part of making this park a favorite place to exercise. But there are many other reasons to care for the park's horticulture properly. Since 2019, EA has planted over 100 new trees in the park, adding species that tolerate climate changes and restore wildlife habitat. We also remove invasive plant species from the shoreline and maintain run-off and pollinator gardens in the park. These efforts reduce heat island effects, create fresh air, remove pollutants from the atmosphere and the River, and foster a safe, healthy, hospitable urban environment for everyone.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Health
Social and economic status

Since 2001, the Esplanade Association has worked with the DCR and many community partners to improve the park. We continue to restore and revitalize specific structures and areas of the Park that are in need. Projects have included the replacement 5 public river docks, restoration of the Eliot Memorial and garden area, the renovation of the Hatch Shell Oval Lawn (site of Boston's July 4 celebration). Most recently, our work has included and the restoration of the Lotta Fountain, an art deco-style fountain that hadn’t functioned for decades, the design and installation of a new Wayfinding system for the park, and the installation of a bright, colorful art mural, Patterned Behavior by a local artist. Upcoming capital projects include pathway safety innovations based on our Pathway Study, additional park murals, and the construction of Charlesbank Landing (a 2-acre site that will offer a visitors center and improvements to the area's shoreline, pathways, and landscape.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Family relationships
Health
Social and economic status

EA’s Volunteer program began in 2004. The EA Volunteer Program has been a great success and has won the Boston Cares Outstanding Community Partners Award in 2005, was one of 100 national winners of the REI Park Stewardship awards in 2010, and won a Fredi Shokof Community Service Award in 2015.

Volunteers make a significant and visible impact on the Esplanade helping keep the park beautiful, clean, and safe for the estimated 3 million people who visit the park each year. In 2019, 1671 volunteers donated 4757 hours of their time and effort, equivalent to more than 2 full-time, year-round employees. The volunteers raked, painted benches, weeded garden beds, and planted bulbs. They also helped remove 6090 running feet of invasive plant species, assisted in the restoration of the Patterned Behavior Mural, and removed 1077 bags of litter.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth

In recent years, EA has increasingly focused on adding appropriate, contemporary public art that honors the 125-year-old park's historical --and landmarked--roots and will appeal to and welcome today's park users. In the last six years, EA has funded the conversion of a dead park tree into an exciting playground sculpture, renovated the 1939 woman-funded and designed Lotta Fountain, commissioned four murals in the park, and created GroundBeat, a music series featuring artists of color. The murals, visible to thousands of people every day were created by four women with local ties, one of whom is Latina. In 2021, amid a Boston winter and a pandemic, EA produced an exciting, outdoor, innovative, award-winning month-long looped illumination projection program on the Hatch Shell, accompanied by music created by an all-woman team. An estimated 40,000 people attended the performances.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Family relationships
People with disabilities
Economically disadvantaged people
Adults
Children and youth
Family relationships
People with disabilities
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

Outstanding Community Partner Award 2005

Boston Cares

Park Stewardship Award 2010

REI

Fredi Shonkof Community Service Award 2015

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Helmsman Award 2014

Community Boating , Inc.

Theiss International River Prize (awarded to EA as a partner of Charles River Watershed Association) 2011

International River Foundation

Certified Wildlife Habitat 2015

National Wildlife Federation

Social Impact Award 2021

Boston Design Week

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Equitable Health & Fitness Programming/Support

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Volunteers who come to the park to weed, rake, plant, cut invasives--all under the supervision of EA staff. In 2020, we returned to a COVID-safe, small group offering in September.

Number of trees cared for

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Horticulture/Tree Care to Address Climate Impacts, Improve Environmetal Quality, and Add Beauty

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Began to implement Tree Management and Succession Plan in fall 2019 and have planted 118 trees in the park since. Figures are net of removals of disease and hazardous trees.

Number of trees planted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Horticulture/Tree Care to Address Climate Impacts, Improve Environmetal Quality, and Add Beauty

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Beginning implementation of Tree Succession and Management Plan in 2019. Now known as Lasting Esplanade Arbor Fund (L.E.A.F.).

EA Program Attendees (fitness, concerts, tours, events)

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

River Fit, Frost Fit, GroundBeat Riverfront Music Series, Guided Tours, and one-time events. 2020 required cancellation of in-person events after March. GroundBeat and Guided Tours went virtual.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

A thriving, safe, accessible park where people come together to share, explore and enjoy nature, community and healthy lifestyles.

This means:
-Healthy trees, turf and shrubs
-Safe pathways
-Inviting gathering places
-Sustainable horticulture practices
-Habitat restoration
-A public engaged in stewardship and advocacy
-Restored and maintained structures
-Amenities and activities accessible to all
-Respect for the original design and purpose of the park while acknowledging changed patterns of use and need

The Esplanade Association (EA) is a nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain its natural green space, and build community in the park by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), EA is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside park. Our vision is a thriving, safe, accessible park where people come together to share, explore and enjoy nature and community.

We improve the biological diversity and beauty of the natural environment on the Charles River Esplanade. Our horticulture and stewardship staff utilize the best management practices in land care to improve soil health, manage invasive plants, expand native plantings, and care for our urban tree canopy. Since 2012, we have planted hundreds of native perennials, shrubs, and trees, and created new initiatives to raise awareness about conservation and restoration. We also manage environmental threats to increase the health and resiliency of the Charles River Esplanade. In 2015, the Esplanade became a certified wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.

EA is a park friends group, but our mission is broader than simply healthy trees and attractive gardens (no small task in itself). We believe healthy communities, healthy parks, and healthy people are inextricably linked. Promoting free, fun, safe ways for urban communities of all abilities to participate in healthy lifestyles is the bedrock of our park improvement approach. We also believe that a public park has a fundamental responsibility to be a welcoming place for everyone – a place where all ages, abilities, cultures, languages, economic groups, and expressions of identity feel comfortable.

EA offers a variety of free and inclusive programming, events, and volunteer opportunities to the greater-Boston community to engage people’s minds and bodies on the Esplanade. Every year, the Esplanade Association brings thousands of children, students, and families to the Park for free exercise classes, day camps, and educational events. Our Volunteer Program invites conscientious citizens to take part in keeping the Park beautiful and healthy while educating them about the Park’s history and critical role in this urban landscape.

Through capital projects and campaigns, we restore and revitalize structures and landscapes, reactivating underutilized and fragile parts of the Park.

We also advocate for the park to protect the natural environment for generations to come, partnering and working with donors, legislators, and others, and pursue progress on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) issues within the park and EA.

Both our long experience over almost two decades provides the organization with a strong basis for our accomplishments. A dedicated staff and Board are also key.

Our 23-person Board provides a wide variety of expertise (financial, marketing, horticultural, arts and culture) and relevant grassroots and professional experience (lawyers, landscape design, fundraising, capital project management, neighborhood advocacy). Most Board members have been involved in EA for many years (we have a 3 term maximum, with a return possible after 1 year), including the organization's founder who is, once again, on the Board. Board Committees manage Board recruitment and provide oversight of fiscal policies and planning/project selection. The Board shares the enthusiasm of the staff and has helped create the strategy that has resulted in a financially stable and programmatically effective organization.

The staff has evolved to include expertise in a variety of areas. Our Executive Director has a broad background in advocacy, public outreach, parks, and politics. We also currently employ 3 full-time horticulturists (and 2 seasonal horticulturists) to oversee our commitment to the health of the trees, shrubs, and lawns in the park and a project manager to oversee the various projects in the park, both capital and horticultural. In addition, we have dedicated, full-time staff people who oversee our award-winning Volunteer Program, our events/social media presence/outreach, and our fundraising.

Since 2001, EA has worked to offer the community safe, attractive, fun, inclusive opportunities to enjoy engaging, healthy activities in the City.

Capital Projects: We have undertaken numerous capital projects to improve key locations in the park critically important for outdoor enjoyment: the Hatch Shell Oval Lawn, the Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields, the Lotta Fountain, the Charles Eliot Memorial, and more. We also built two children's play areas and added 5 murals on long-graffitied walls and electrical boxes.

Programming: Each summer, we host 5000 adults of all fitness levels for exercise classes (Zumba, yoga, boot camp, and more) with both summer and winter programs. We also provide a series of free tours of the park (park history, garden design and care, photography, wildlife, and trees). All free to the public.

Horticulture: We employ our own professional horticulturists to maintain gardens, turf, and trees using sustainable practices. With the help of volunteers, they carry out an aggressive invasive plant management program removing Phragmites, Japanese knotweed, and other invasive plants from the park. Our hort staff also harvests seeds from native plants established in the park, propagates seedlings, and plants the mature plants in the park. Our staff oversees tree care (planting, pruning, soil improvements) for the 1700 trees. Since 2019 we have planted 118 new trees in the park t revitalize the critical urban canopy.

Advocacy: We advocate for improvements to the park and the park user experience. We partnered to bring a wildly-popular beer garden to the park for the first time, advocated for the Fanny Appleton Pedestrian Bridge, the only fully Americans with Disability Act-compliant bridge in the entire Charles River Basin, and persuaded the state to demolish a long-closed, 2-acre pool to create new opportunities for park users.

DEI: Staff is 21% BIPOC, up from 0% 3 years ago. One staff member identifies as LGBTQ. Our Board is 22% BIPOC in voting seats, up from 10% during the same period. Staff and Board completed training on contributing to an organization and a public park that are more inclusive. They have also developed action items to improve EA's performance on DEI issues, including diversity among instructors, vendors, and partners, and "Inclusion by Representation" in all media. A draft organization DEI statement is under internal review.

Near term priorities(1-2 years) include:
-Expansion of our program offerings to include more winter activities and more public art
-Continued progress on DEI initiatives
-Pathway improvements to increase bicycle-pedestrian safety

Longer-term priorities (2-5 years) include:
-Full implementation of our Tree Management & Succession Plan to assure a robust tree canopy
-Reimagination of the former Lee Pool area by creating Charlesbank Landing, which will include a visitors center and shoreline, pathway, and landscape improvements.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    The Esplanad is a 125-year old public park in the heart of Boston, free and open to all. EA serves the millions of annual visitors who come to the park from Boston, every county in Massachusetts, and from all over the US and the world. We also exercise responsible park stewardship to assure park relevance for future generations.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Suggestion box/email, Public Meetings,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We are continually improving our programs and park care based on feedback from, park users, the State, and EA members, Staff, and Board. Based on recent feedback through multiple channels, including an email survey of 800 people from targeted zip codes in 2021, we plan to offer a wider variety of active programs that address three specific identified needs: -Expansion of winter park activations including exercise and public art engagements -Re-design of our children's programs to reach broader interests, ages, and abilities -Exercise offerings designed for seniors.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We have always had an open relationship with members, donors, the State, and neighborhood community groups. As we have been more proactive in seeking feedback through multiple channels (surveys after programs, broad email surveys, online feedback form, and more--along with required public meetings), we have gained valuable insights that altered our staff and Board priorities in beneficial ways. While the State has the final decision and rule-making power, this broad user-based input has proven influential.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Esplanade Association Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Esplanade Association Inc

Board of directors
as of 11/27/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Ms. Alexi Conine

Retired

Term: 2020 - 2023


Board co-chair

Frank Panayotou

UBS

Term: 2019 - 2022

Terence Ankner

The Law Offices of Partridge, Ankner & Horstmann, LLP

Fritz Casselman

Public Health Consultant

Anthony Pangaro

Millennium Partners

Margaret Pokorny

Retired

Alicia Towns Franken

Community Volunteer

Frank Panayotou

UBS

Emi Winterer

Retired

Joan Patton

J.P. Marvel Investments

Alexi Conine

Retired

Harvey Beker

Retired

Carolina Save-Natale

Mintz Levin

Jeryl Oristaglio

Retired

Audrey Foster

Retired

James Foster

Community Volunteer

Edward Zuker

Chestnut Hill Realty

Tom Lewis

Retired

Bob Hedges

Retired

Susan Domolky

Retired

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/27/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/27/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.