Funding Opportunities

Each year, the Boston Foundation distributes more than $16 million in grants and other support from the Permanent Fund for Boston, an endowed pool of funds contributed by donors who want to see the Greater Boston community thrive.  These discretionary grant-making dollars are largely awarded through a competitive process that is open to all nonprofits serving the Foundation’s catchment area and is stewarded by the Foundation’s Program Department Staff. All grants are approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Since 2009, the Boston Foundation has invested the majority of its discretionary resources to move the needle in a set of five impact areas and two crosscutting strategies outlined below.  As a complement to this targeted approach, beginning in the Fall of 2016, the Boston Foundation will distribute a portion of its resources via a new Open Door Grants program that is designed to respond to the expressed opportunities and needs of the communities we serve.

In addition to the above, the Foundation makes grants and strategic investments through a number of special issue-focused programs and initiatives.  These Other Support activities have varying purposes, some of which are open to application.

Funding Opportunities

Five Impact Areas

  • Education

    How to Apply
    The Education impact area works to ensure that all residents can access opportunity, and that their education prepares them to remain in our region and succeed in their careers. We work to strengthen the city’s and region’s education pipeline—from the youngest learners, through K-12 education, and then through college completion and into careers. We do this in two primary ways: first, by investing in Structural Reform to increase the number of high quality schools with site-based decision making, including key autonomies; and, by investing in efforts to increase College Completion rates for students from Boston.  Learn more...
  • Health & Wellness

    Health 2
    The Health & Wellness impact area strives to lower rates of overweight and obesity in Boston and Massachusetts, as well as to reduce health care costs through a greater focus on prevention.  To achieve this, we invest in increasing access to school-based youth physical activity and addressing obesity in the early childhood period.  Additionally, we focus on reducing health disparities and health care costs through investing in cross-sector approaches that address the social determinants of health.  The Health & Wellness impact area focuses on three arenas:  Youth Physical Activity; Early Childhood Obesity Prevention; and Health and Social EnvironmentLearn more...
  • Jobs & Economic Development

    Pay for Success
    Economic opportunity and mobility remain elusive and unattainable for a large number of residents in the Greater Boston area.  The Jobs & Economic Development impact area works to provide equitable access to economic opportunities, with a specific focus on the populations that have customarily been overlooked:  women and under-represented minorities.  Our goals are to expand Workforce Development initiatives; foster an environment of support for inner city Entrepreneurship; and increase the participation rate of women and under-represented minorities in the Innovation economy.  Learn more...
  • Neighborhoods & Housing

    Housing 2
    The Neighborhoods & Housing impact area seeks to make Boston and its surrounding communities affordable, accessible and responsive to community vision and needs.  It does this by pursuing two distinct, but complementary strands of work.  The Housing strategy works to fundamentally reform the systems that impede housing production and destabilize low-income families.  The Neighborhoods strategy supports communities adjacent to Boston’s Fairmount Indigo Commuter Rail Line to build their collective capacity to advocate for equitable development policies and become a political force recognized by state and local policymakers.  Learn more...
  • Arts & Culture

    Community Music Center

    The Arts & Culture impact area is currently undergoing a strategic restructuring to ensure the Foundation's giving in this area directly addresses existing community needs and ecosystem gaps.  This effort is informed by local and national research, conversations with leaders, stakeholders, and practitioners in the arts and culture sector, the City of Boston’s “Boston Creates” cultural planning process and the Understanding Boston report, How Boston and 10 Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts.  The strategies that will ultimately be pursued by this impact area will include advocacy, policy, research, convening and grant making that will aim to reach artists, arts and culture programs and organizations across Greater Boston.  We anticipate communicating the new goals and strategies for this impact area in the Summer of 2016.  Learn more... 


    Crosscutting Strategies



  • Nonprofit Effectiveness

    Man at computer job training
    The Nonprofit Effectiveness strategy aims to strengthen the Massachusetts nonprofit sector overall and enhance the impact of the Foundation’s grantees. Our work supports and promotes effective and sustainable nonprofits by focusing on three core competencies necessary for impact: Leadership, Capacity and Resources. The strategy develops the sector’s leaders and enhances their impact, bolsters the operational effectiveness of individual and groups of nonprofits and supports nonprofits to share their stories using data to facilitate informed giving via the Giving Common.   Learn more...
  • Grassroots

    Victory garden photo

    The Grassroots strategy is set up to respond quickly to community needs, with the Action Fund proactively providing grants that range from $200 to $10,000 to grassroots organizations. These grants help people come together, establish relationships, strengthen political will, form caring connections, heal divides and build efficacy, clout and resilience. The Grassroots strategy seeks to achieve the following goals:  Activate Grassroots Leaders, Seed Grassroots Ideas, and Deepen Grassroots ConnectionsLearn more...


    Open Door Grants



  • Open Door Grants

    Funding Opportunities
    Open Door Grants support organizations that may not be directly aligned with the approaches pursued under the five impact areas.  Both new and existing nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston can apply for Open Door Grants to support efforts that meet existing needs, including organizational capacity building, as well as test new ideas and innovations that address the most critical challenges facing our community.  Learn more...


    Other Support



  • Other Support

    Funding Opportunities
    A portion of the Foundation’s grant-making funds are distributed through special programs or initiatives that seek to address a well-defined issue or need. These programs are created when the Foundation, often in partnership with other funders, sets aside resources to address specific, pressing issues, frequently over a multi-year period.  Learn more...
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