1. Experience with Cambridge nonprofits. Do you have work or volunteer experience with Cambridge nonprofits?
Yes. Ayesha has a tremendous amount of experience working with Cambridge nonprofits. Through her work in the Work Force Program, she has seen first hand the difference nonprofits can make. Helping low-income Cambridge teenagers in public housing find jobs and employment has shown Ayesha that Cambridge lacks not in opportunity, but accessibility. Other nonprofits including Upward Bound, the Cambridge Community Center, and Cambridge Schools Volunteers, Ayesha has dedicated her time to helping young people and providing them with much needed assistance that would otherwise not have been possible without these nonprofits. Further in supporting the Community Art Center, Margaret Fuller House and Transitions House, Ayesha continuously sees the importance of staffing and maintaining continued support for these integral parts of Cambridge. Ayesha has been on the Board of Directors of the YWCA Cambridge since 2019 and acknowledges that nonprofits are a treasure to the Cambridge community. Our city would not be able to run without dedicated nonprofits and is happy to continue her heavy involvement and being a champion of them.
2. Valuing nonprofit expertise. Cambridge nonprofits deliver programs and services across a wide range of missions, from early education and youth development, to affordable housing production and management, arts and culture exposure and education, food security, environmental preservation, civic engagement (or community involvement), and much more. As a result, nonprofit leaders and staff are often well positioned to advise the City on program policies related to their clients and consumers. Will you use your position on the City Council to ensure that the City incorporates the voice and expertise of nonprofit leaders into planning around current City priorities?
Yes. Nonprofits are not only important to aiding community goals, but are integral in upholding them. Nonprofits are one of the most effective means of addressing a community’s needs and thus have essential expertise that City Council is in dire need of. Policy is there to support nonprofits, because nonprofits support Cambridge. Ayesha reiterates nonprofit input must be uplifted and highlighted in the City Council, because the City Council should serve nonprofits, such that they may serve Cambridge.
3. Limiting application of Anti-Aid Amendment. With the exception of contracts for services, the Anti-Aid Amendment of the MA Constitution prohibits municipalities from directly distributing funds raised through taxation to nonprofits. While the City provides financial support to nonprofits through contracting, this approach increased administrative burdens, can cause cash-flow issues due to payment delays, and limits creativity in developing new funding opportunities. It also can create an incentive for the City to start new initiatives rather than invest in programs already well established in the community. Will you use your position on the City Council to limit the application of the Anti-Aid Amendment to tax generated revenue only, in order to maximize the resources available to Cambridge nonprofits?
Yes. As mentioned previously, Cambridge is not a city lacking in resources, our nonprofits being one of the most central. Ayesha firmly believes that the Anti-Aid Amendment should be limited as nonprofits need the financial support in order to carry out their goals to the best of their ability. Nonprofit organizations are not a vessel that will be using municipal funds in vain, as these organizations are motivated and centered around communal aid and not personal finances. As such, it’s critical that Cambridge may continuously provide financial support to them.
4. Attending to nonprofit workforce challenges. According to CNC's December 2022 survey of Cambridge nonprofits, (70%) reported open positions and over a third (36%) said they lacked the funding to fill them, comprising their ability to meet service demands. Do you believe the City Council can play a role in helping nonprofits recruit and retain high quality staff?
Yes. Nonprofit organizations have historically had difficult times being able to recruit and retain staff necessary to their function. This is a key issue fundamental to the efficacy of these nonprofits, of which, not only does Ayesha believe City Council can play a role, but that it also should. 70% with open positions is 70% too many, and if Cambridge wants to rely and reap the great work nonprofits continue to roll out, City Council must commit to making sure there is a supply of people who are equipped to run them.
5. ARPA investments in nonprofits. While Cambridge nonprofits are grateful for the City committing millions of ARPA dollars to local organizations, concerns have been raised both about the slow pace of releasing funds into the community and a lack of information being shared broadly regarding their progress. Will you use your position on the City Council to expedite this process and ensure there is greater transparency going forward?
Yes. City Council hasn’t had a great history of transparency, a fact Ayesha is committed to changing. The long and arduous process of getting city funds into the nonprofits needs to be simplified and shared in order to ensure the actual delivery of work that can come out of those funds. ARPA funds are a great way to support nonprofits, but are only effective if those funds are quickly and transparently given to those nonprofits.