Google received the Trailblazer Award at Citizen Schools WOW!Now breakfast reception on June 11 at The Maxwell Hotel. Torrence Boone — NYC GBO Site Lead and a long-standing CS board member — accepted the award on behalf the 675+ Googlers who have committed time and energy to the partnership since 2008. With impact across more than 2,200 students and counting, the Citizen Schools / Google partnership remains a powerful opportunity to give back and empower future generations. “I grew up in inner-city Baltimore in a community not dissimilar from the communities that Citizen School serves. So when I first stepped into Issac Newton in Harlem, in many ways I was stepping back in time.” Learn more about Torrence’s personal experience with Citizen Schools here and contact lucyvasserman@ and mikehudson@to get involved. 

Below is the acceptance speech that I gave in response to being awarded the Trailblazer Award:

“Nadia, thank you so much for that introduction. Good morning everyone.

As Nadia mentioned, I first became involved with Citizen Schools almost 8 years ago. A friend and colleague on my team had volunteered with Citizen Schools and spoke so passionately about the experience that I knew I had to learn more. I went on a site visit to one of the WOW! events where the students showcase their accomplishments from the semester. Not only was I blown away by the program, I was transported back to my childhood in the most profound of ways.

I grew up in inner-city Baltimore in a community not dissimilar from the communities that Citizen Schools serves. So when I stepped into Isaac Newton in Harlem, in many ways I was stepping back in time. While I didn’t have a Citizen Schools program in my middle school, I was fortunate enough to have similar types of interventions by caring, highly functioning adults who spotted my potential and took an interest in my development–from teachers to guidance counselors, coaches, family and friends. So while I grew up with material scarcity, I was surrounded by love and emotional abundance–often tough love and demanding emotional abundance I might add–but abundance nonetheless! In fact, I firmly assert that my ability to defy many of the unfortunate statistics that define African-American malehood today was directly a function of these constructive adult interventions and mentorship.

Citizen Schools aspires to and achieves the same types of interventions in the lives of children in our most challenged public school environments. I’ve seen the dedicated work of our Teaching Fellows in the classroom.

I’ve witnessed the kids’ wide-eyed wonder associated with their apprenticeships at Google, where we expose them to everything from robotics to computer science to ad campaign development and many other diverse subjects. I’ve had them ask me directly what it takes to work at Google.

We are indeed bridging the achievement and opportunity gap while offering our students a window into a more expansive set of possibilities that their more affluent peers often take for granted.

But it’s not a one-way street. One of the reasons why we’re so dedicated to Citizen Schools and why it’s the #1 volunteerism organization at Google, is that we’re not only impacting the lives of the students, we’re impacting the lives of the Googlers. The students teach our employee volunteers as much, if not more than, the volunteers teach the students. We’ve built our company on a highly differentiated investment in the professional and personal development of our employees. Citizen Schools is a critical component of that development.

I am humbled and honored to receive this award on behalf of the entire Google team and our dedicated employee volunteers. Thanks again to the entire Citizen Schools organization for this recognition and your continued partnership.”