Open Door Grants

Grandfather photo

The Boston Foundation allocates a portion of its grant-making dollars to a program called Open Door Grants, which, as its name suggests, is an open process and responds to the expressed ideas and needs of the community. Open Door Grants are made to nonprofits that are not directly aligned with the strategies, goals and approaches pursued in the five impact areas the Foundation has focused on since 2009 and will continue to focus on until at least 2020. New and existing nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston are encouraged to look to Open Door Grants to support their efforts to meet existing needs as well as test new ideas and innovations that address the most critical challenges facing our community.

We are currently reviewing Year 1 of the Open Door Grants program and will post information on Year 2 (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018), including deadlines and application forms, soon.               

What Open Door Grants Support:

  • Innovative and new ideas from new or existing organizations
  • Proven ideas from established organizations and programs 
  • Capacity-building projects for new and existing organizations 

What types of support will be available:


Grant Type

General Operating Support

Project Support

  Established Organization/Program  X
  Innovation/New Ideas  X
  Capacity Building   

Note: If your organization does work on behalf of seniors or individuals with physical disabilities, you are especially encouraged to apply for an Open Door Grant as the Foundation has funds specifically designated for these purposes and/or populations.

Open Door Grants will be made for one year at a time and for up to two years in a row, with an abbreviated renewal application required for those seeking a second year of funding. Grantees receiving two consecutive years of funding will be asked to wait 12 months following the completion of their two-year grant period before applying for an additional Open Door Grant. Grants will generally range from $10,000 to $50,000.

To make the Foundation’s application process as straightforward as possible, a number of grant-making programs have been consolidated under the umbrella of Open Door Grants. Work previously supported through Special Opportunity, Vision Fund, Food and Fuel Fund and Elder Funds grant-making programs are now eligible for Open Door Grants.

What will be required:

  • Online application (there is no Letter of Interest).
  • Completion of select fields within an abbreviated Giving Common profile (for organizations with an existing Giving Common profile, an abbreviated profile is not required but please e-mail Giving Common staff to verify that select fields are up-to-date).  Applications will not be considered without having completed an abbreviated profile by the application deadline. 
  • Completion of pre- and post-award surveys (if selected for a grant).

Who is eligible:

  • Existing or new start-up organizations that fall within our five impact areas but are not highly aligned with the strategies, goals and approaches in those impact areas.
  • Existing or new start-up organizations that do not serve our five impact areas (examples include, but are not limited to environmental, civic engagement and human services organizations).

All applicants must:

  • Be a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit or operate under the fiscal sponsorship of a tax-exempt nonprofit
  • Primarily serve the people of the cities and towns in the Foundation’s catchment area, with the exception of regional, statewide or national public policy efforts that may benefit a substantial portion of the people in the Foundation’s catchment area.
  • Align with the Foundation’s Values Statement, which seeks to broaden participation, foster collaboration, and heal racial, ethnic and community divisions.
  • Not discriminate in the hiring of staff or the provision of services on the basis of race, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.
  • Not be in direct conflict with the strategies, goals and approaches pursued by the Foundation’s five impact areas (for example, given the focus of the Structural Reform strategy of the Foundation’s Education impact area, proposals that aim to limit or block charter schools will not be considered for a grant).

Exclusions:  The Boston Foundation does not make grants for capital construction costs, endowments, medical or academic research, scholarships, sectarian or religious purposes, or to support candidates for political office.  Private non-operating foundations, 509(c)(4) organizations, and Section 509(a)(3) Type III Non-functionally Integrated organizations are not eligible to apply.  In addition, grants are not made to individual persons.  Individual schools must apply through their school districts and districts may submit one application every 12 months.

Please read through the Frequently Asked Questions for additional important information about Open Door Grants.  If you still have questions, email and a member of our grants management team can assist you. Interested applicants may also wish to attend an upcoming community grant information session about the Foundation’s grant opportunities.

Helpful Hints

Please note that the Boston Foundation’s online application forms work best with Internet Explorer.  We are working on a system that will enable the forms to work with additional Internet browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.  In the meantime, we encourage you to use Internet Explorer when filling out online applications or reports.  Also, be sure to close your internet browser between sessions or it will open a new, blank form rather than your saved form.