Grassroots

Street Lab Uphams Corner

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 via a fellowship program that will identify neighborhood leaders with demonstrated track records and award them with modest two-year fellowships
  • Seed Grassroots Ideas by providing early support for neighborhood-based innovation by making a range of small and speedy grants through the Action Fund and Open Door Grants
  • Deepen Grassroots Connections by partnering with leaders to create safe and welcoming spaces and opportunities for 100-150 or more community members, grassroots nonprofit leaders and Foundation staff to meet together, exchange stories and discuss lessons learned from community action.

The lessons learned and connections made through this process have enriched the Foundation’s grant-making. Ideas funded over the past five years have ranged from targeted events to transformational opportunities — each starting with the power of people.

Grantee Highlight

Mattapan’s Finest, a local Grove Hall barbershop, realized that its unique position as a community gathering place could enable it to do much more than cut hair—it could help kids succeed.  Delivering a message on the importance of education, the barbershop offers free haircuts along with lunch and school supplies to children before each school year. Jamie Mitchell, the owner, recruits more than two-dozen local barbers and hairstylists to volunteer their time on the Sunday before Boston Public Schools begin.  Support from the Action Fund has enabled the annual “Cut and Curl” event to grow tremendously, from 100 children in its first year to over 350 in its fourth, providing each child with a backpack full of school supplies, lunch and, of course, a new hairstyle.  Building on the success of Cut and Curls, Jamie has since partnered with the Boston Public Health Commission to offer information, workshops and free health clinics to his patrons once a month on the busiest day of the week-Saturday.  View a YouTube video featuring Mattapan's Finest 6th Annual Free Cut & Curl.