FAQ

What is the difference between the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) and the Phillips Brooks House?

Until the 2000s, our student-run nonprofit was interchangeably referred to as Phillips Brooks House Association, Phillips Brooks House, and sometimes just Brooks House, by students and members of the Harvard and greater Boston communities. Today, Phillips Brooks House (PBH) refers to a department and building at Harvard College that is also home to the Public Service Network and the Center for Public Interest Careers. Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) is a separately incorporated, student-run nonprofit, founded in 1904, with an independent board of trustees that is affiliated with Harvard College and part of the Phillips Brooks House administrative department.

PBHA is a “student-run” non-profit. What does that mean?

PBHA’s programming, daily operations, and long-term vision have always been led by students. Students volunteer with, staff, and direct the managing of everything from fundraising and hiring to program design and community relationships. The student directors of PBHA’s programs comprise the Cabinet, the governing body of the organization which elects the nonprofit Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is composed of 11 students and 10 non-student members; the officers of the Board – president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary – are all students. Student leaders are coached by professional staff on the program and organizational level who hold ultimate responsibility for PBHA’s safety and liability, financial integrity, human resources, and long-term community partnerships.

How can PBHA be both community-based and located at Harvard?

PBHA is a Harvard student organization and part of Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House department. Our staff are Harvard employees and our offices are located in Harvard Yard. PBHA benefits from overhead resources from Harvard, but does have to raise half our non-profit budget from outside funding sources. The majority of our programs are based in Boston and Cambridge neighborhoods and built on decades-long partnerships with those communities. In addition, while a majority of our college-age volunteers are Harvard students, there is a large representation of college-age and high school staff who are from the communities and constituencies the programs serve. Our professional staff actively participate in Boston and Cambridge coalitions and help maintain long-term community partnerships.

Where do PBHA programs operate?

PBHA provides year round programming in greater Boston, including Chinatown, Dorchester, Roxbury, South Boston, and the South End, as well as the Cambridge communities of Jefferson Park, Newtowne Court and Roosevelt Towers.  Our homeless shelters operate in Harvard Square and select programs operate on Harvard’s campus. A few programs, like Habitat for Humanity and Alternative Spring Break, run trips across the United States and Latin America.

How can I sign up to volunteer or to use the services of a PBHA program?

Each PBHA program coordinates its own enrollment process. If you know which program you would like to participate in, visit our program listing for specific instructions. If you are unsure which program is right for you, contact our Programming Chairs at pc@pbha.org.

What are other ways I can support PBHA’s programming?

PBHA has served the Greater Boston community with compassion and consequence for more than 110 years. Some of the ways you can help us continue to accomplish our mission are by making a one-time, recurring, planned, or in-kind gift; mentoring a current student through PBHA’s Alumni Mentoring Program; or sharing your expertise by running a training or reflection session or serving on the Board of Trustees. We encourage PBHA alumni and friends alike to take part in PBHA-Alumni activities like regional gatherings and local service projects. We also welcome any suggestions you might have for involvement.

How do I start a PBHA program?

Programs must complete an application process to join PBHA. Typically, the program should already be in existence and approved by Harvard. Programs must meet eligibility criteria including community need, student leadership and development, and no duplication of existing services. Interested programs should contact PBHA’s Programming Chairs (pc@pbha.org), at which point they will be asked to submit a concept paper. If the concept paper is approved, the program will be asked to complete a full application, for which they will receive support and coaching from PBHA officers and staff. The ultimate decision to accept new programs is made by PBHA’s Cabinet.

Can I make a gift through Harvard to PBHA? Can I get class credit?

Gifts to PBHA can also be made through Harvard. Gifts for current use should be made to the “General Support of the Phillips Brooks House Association” fund (310-330584RG). Gifts in support of PBHA’s endowment should be directed to the “Phillips Brooks House Centennial Fund” (310-480520RE). Those instructions are valid for gifts by cash, check, credit card, stock, or made online. Gifts made to PBHA through Harvard are subject to a 15% administrative fee and are not usually eligible for class credit, although exceptions have been made.

Did Maria graduate with the class of 1955?

Maria did not graduate with the class of 1955, although she is delighted to be an “honorary member” of the class – and enjoys joining them for the Harvard-Yale game each year! The class of 1955 endowed PBHA’s Executive Director position as part of the Centennial Capital Campaign. We have named the position in their honor in gratitude for this generosity.