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Sawyer Student Launches Skateboarding Nonprofit in Boston

Suffolk’s Sawyer Business School recently published an article on advertising major and skateboarder Robert Schneps (MBA ’18), whose nonprofit On Board Boston is a vehicle for underserved Bostonian youth to develop “discipline, self-confidence, and mentorship” through skateboarding.

“When you’re trying the same trick for an hour and a half and not getting it, when you finally land it, there’s so much progression and satisfaction. [Skateboarding] taught me resilience. It taught me about getting back up when you’ve been tossed.”

Schneps, a Cambridge native, had a strong desire to get involved with kids in his community “who didn’t have the same access to some of the things he had growing up.” The genesis for On Board Boston came to fruition when the nonprofit that had hired him as an intern sponsored a one-day program for kids at Boston skate park PopAllston.

Schneps kickstarted On Board Boston with a $2,000 Innovation Fellowship through Suffolk’s Center for Innovative Collaboration and Leadership—developed in part to “nurture inventive student ideas.”

Local outlets Orchard Skate Shop, Maximum Hesh, Bern Unlimited and PopAllston supplied equipment to help On Board Boston get off on the good foot, with a proper launch with 15 to 20 kids at Dorchester’s Peace Institute.

Schneps notes that, “Mostly girls were skating with us, and they all skated so much better than the guys. The kids loved it.”

According to the article, On Board Boston now hosts roughly a dozen kids, aged 6 to 14, every Saturday morning for two hours. Schneps hopes to install his operation in 10 schools a semester. When asked about the more long-term social value of his nonprofit, here’s what Schneps had to say:

“I’ve been applying skateboarding to education because you’re learning similar skills. With learning a new subject, it might seem overwhelming and it might seem confusing to you—same as with a kick flip. But once you put that effort and time in, things start to click. It’s helped me have a better outlook on tackling difficult and challenging subjects. Plus, the feeling you get when you’re out skateboarding is, you forget about all the bad things going on in your life. You just breathe and skate and focus on something else.”

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About the Author


Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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