• Assembling 300 healthy snacks for the nonprofit CASPAR. 
  • Building catapults to hit targets in Costa Park. 
  • Devising paper planes to land on a vinyl Mars. 
  • Answering Kendall trivia questions. 
  • Running relays. 
  • Solving math problems. 
  • Bouncing around Galaxy Park on Hippity Hop balls. 

Those are just some of the 80 missions completed by 43 teams of people as part of the 2023 Kendall Square Challenge. Using a map and an app, 400+ people and a host of volunteers came together to conquer Kendall Square, and raise almost $60,000 in support of eight local nonprofits

The Kendall Square Challenge is an annual event in this purpose-driven community. This year, the event was presented by Alexandria Real Estate Equities and DivcoWest, along with platinum sponsors Broad Discovery Center, MITIMCo, Sanofi, gold sponsors Bulfinch, Jacobs, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Microsoft, Vicinity, and in kind sponsor Epic Renewal. The 2023 event began at Cambridge Crossing and participants wound their way through Kendall Square’s many green spaces and the Broad Canal to Tech Square, and the finale, a Block Party featuring food and drink from Cafe Luna, Playabowls, and Lamplighter. Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui awarded BioMed Realty the coveted Kendall Cup along with bragging rights for the year.

Teams selected a nonprofit partner from this list Cambridge School Volunteers, CASPAR, Enroot Education, Food for Free, Innovators for Purpose, Margaret Fuller House, Per Scholas, and the Young Peoples Project. Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon, Cambridge City Councillors Burhan Azeem, Marc McGovern, Patty Nolan, along with sponsor representatives Michal Preminger and Hirak Parikh from Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Namrata Sengupta from Broad Discovery Center, Sam Aureli from MITIMCo, presented each nonprofit with a check, ranging from $5,000 – $15,000. Food for Free, the nonprofit with the most teams competing and scoring points on their behalf, went home with the largest check of the day.

The Kendall Square Challenge is a powerful catalyst for team bonding, reinforcing Kendall’s collective spirit that transcends individual contributions, and fueling the collaboration that yields success in and out of our offices and labs. 

“I look forward to the Kendall Square Challenge every year because it is a great way to meet people, bond with colleagues, and enjoy a friendly competition,” said Fabiola Alikpokou, Senior Planner at the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. “Of course, the food and drinks are great too. I can’t wait for 2024!”  

“[Kendall Square] Challenge underscores the longstanding commitment of Kendall companies to supporting the residents of our City,” said Alanna Mallon, Vice-Mayor of the City of Cambridge. “Through this fun annual event, companies are raising the awareness of the deep work of our nonprofit community partners and strengthening employee ties to critical local resources for volunteering and other support.”

KSA partnered with Epic Renewal to “green” this year’s event and diverted 14 lbs of organics from landfills, offsetting nearly 320 net pounds of CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of the average passenger car driving 11 miles. Plus, extra fresh food from the event was donated to Food for Free to support their mission of bringing food to students, seniors, and others most at risk of hunger.

The Challenge’s focus on community engagement and philanthropy strengthens the ties between Kendall organizations and local nonprofits, creating valuable partnerships and support systems. This annual event cultivates a sense of belonging and teamwork among all participants and reinforces the shared purpose of making Kendall Square a vibrant, inclusive, and socially responsible community. Plus, it’s fun!