Sarah Rosenkrantz & Sam Greenberg | Co-Founders | Y2Y Harvard Square

Y2Y Harvard Square is nation’s first student run homeless shelter for young adults. Y2Y
employs a youth-to-youth model to provide a critically needed safe and affirming environment
for 18 – 24 year olds who are experiencing homelessness in Greater Boston. At Y2Y Harvard
Square guests have opportunities to collaborate with service providers, other youth
experiencing homelessness, and the student volunteers to create sustainable pathways out of
homelessness and develop skills for long-term success. Guests can build pathways out of
homelessness by accessing medical and mental healthcare, case management, legal aid,
financial literacy, and enrichment workshops. Guests also build leadership skills by collaborating with shelter volunteers to advocate for directing public attention and legislative resources to end youth homelessness.

Y2Y’s strategic approach is innovative in three key ways. First, we know that being on the
streets is dangerous for anyone, but according to the Administration for Children, Youth &
Families, young adults are especially vulnerable to trauma. Because of this we intervene early,
providing a safe environment with easily accessible pathways of resources out of
homelessness.

Secondly, Y2Y is the nation’s first student run shelter for young adults, and our youth­-to-­youth
model creates lower barriers to trust for our guests who often report being distrustful of adult
authority figures (Coleman). Increased trust translates into a willingness to actually access and
utilize our services and work with our partners. It also engenders an environment in which
guests and student leaders can collaborate, becoming the next generation of leaders to end
youth homelessness.

Finally, Y2Y’s strong relationship with Harvard fosters two particularly positive outcomes for
Y2Y. One, we have access to research and data that allows us to lead the field forward. Two,
we are able to engage the over 200 student volunteers a year that are integral to our model, but
also make it extremely cost efficient to operate the shelter. Preliminary assessments lead us to
believe that Y2Y proves a transformative experience that shapes the careers and perspectives
of our volunteers. We believe that by supporting students in communities with similar need and
community support, that we can achieve significant scale and impact.

Y2Y’s operating model, and unique innovations all further Y2Y’s vision. Guests and student
volunteers work together every day to realize Y2Y’s shared vision: a network of communities
where all young adults experiencing homelessness have a safe place to rest, grow, and lead.
Photo courtesy of Harvard Crimson.

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