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Northeastern’s commitment to Boston goes far beyond voluntary payments

Fall Campus Feature
09/29/14 - BOSTON, MA. - Students walk to class at Northeastern University on September 29, 2014. Photo: Matthew Modoono/University Photographer

On Tuesday, the city of Boston released the latest data regarding Payments in Lieu of Tax (PILOT), a program launched in 2012 that requests voluntary financial payments from nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations.

Over the past year, Northeastern contributed $886,000 to the city in voluntary PILOT, and an additional $2.3 million in property taxes on tax-exempt property. These combined payments total more than $3.18 million.

The university’s civic engagement, however, far exceeds these voluntary payments. Through both financial and in-kind support of services and community-based programs, the university’s support of Boston totals more than $27 million annually.

“Northeastern has a long tradition of being a civically-engaged university,” said John Tobin, Northeastern’s vice president for city and community affairs. “We take great pride in being a good neighbor and we value the positive partnership we have with the mayor and with the city.”

Tobin also noted that Northeastern maintains its own professional police force, handles its own snow removal, and collects and disposes of trash on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, last winter Northeastern facilities crews and students assisted the city with its snow removal efforts during the historic blizzard.

News coverage of the latest PILOT figures neglected to reference the array of benefits that universities provide the city and its residents.

The following are examples of Northeastern’s broad investment in Boston and particularly the neighborhoods adjacent to the university:

$12 million in scholarships that support local youth
The university’s community investment extends to its substantial financial aid commitment, which includes nearly $12 million in scholarships that support local youth. Northeastern last year provided 150 graduates of Boston Public Schools with full tuition scholarships, in addition to hosting college readiness events for BPS students and their families. The university graduates a higher percentage of BPS students than any other university.

$26-million investment to transform city-owned playground
In May, the university announced a $26 million investment to transform the city-owned William E. Carter Playground on Columbus Avenue. The unique public-​​private partnership between the university and the city will expand recreation opportunities for both Northeastern students and Boston residents. The project received widespread acclaim when it was announced.

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The only university to host a Boston public charter school
Northeastern is the only university to host a Boston public charter school on its campus. The Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, a college preparatory high school for Boston students exploring careers in health and health-related professions, is housed rent-free on the Northeastern campus.

$2.3 million in voluntary real estate tax payments
Northeastern annually pays more than $2.3 million in real estate taxes to the city despite its tax-exempt status. These payments are in addition to Northeastern’s annual PILOT of $886,000.

Strong partnership on community-based programs
The university has partnered with the city and Mayor Marty Walsh on a host of community-based programs, including Foundation Year, Step-Up, and Healthy Kids/Healthy Futures, and has led many youth education initiatives, such as those through the Center for STEM Education, the Urban Health Research and Practice, and the Balfour Academy at Northeastern.

$4 million in volunteer service provided by students
Northeastern students contribute nearly $4 million in volunteer service hours in the city of Boston each year.

$300,000 in co-op employment to staff city hotline
Every six months the university provides the city with six co-op students to staff the mayor’s 24-hour community hotline, covering the students’ wages.

$50,000 in summer jobs for Boston teenagers
Through a partnership with Action for Boston Community Development, the university contributes $50,000 annually in summer jobs for Boston teenagers.

Heavy investment in youth sports and community spaces
The university financially supports a host of youth sports programs and teams around the city and has made significant investments in community spaces for its neighbors.