Nonprofits Drive Field of Interest Impact

TBF Field of Interest Funds provide support for specified causes via grants to an array of local organizations, which are turning those grants into life-affirming change.

July 26, 2022

By Candace Burton, Grants Administration Associate

Field of Interest Funds are named funds within the Boston Foundation’s endowment, the Permanent Fund for Boston, and provide resources to specified areas of community concern. Donors establish these funds to identify causes they care strongly about and wish to support over time—sometimes beyond their own lifespan—secure in knowing that as needs change and organizations evolve, the Foundation’s close ties to community and partnerships across the nonprofit sector mean the disbursed funds will continue to be effective drivers of change.

Like the rest of the Permanent Fund endowment, each fund’s resources are invested, and a percentage of the total is available for grants each year. There are close to 100 Field of Interest Funds at TBF, with new ones created almost every year; the oldest is the Fanny Wharton Fund, established in 1919.

In June 2022, the Board of Directors approved $1,027,000 in one-year grants to organizations that work in areas named by donors who established Field of Interest or other restricted funds as part of the Foundation’s grantmaking docket. We wanted to highlight the impact of just three of those grants.

Chica Project

Four women in face masks and colorful clothes pose in front of classroom whiteboard

Chica Project’s mission is to close the opportunity divide for Latinas and other women of color by empowering them with the skills, confidence and network they need to thrive personally and professionally. Since receiving an Open Door Grant from the Boston Foundation in 2019, the organization has more than tripled its revenue to become a million-dollar organization that is continuing to grow. Chica Project was awarded $28,000 from the David Cushing Fund, established in 1988 and dedicated to programming for women and girls. “The Boston Foundation’s funding has helped our programming grow its roots deeper into building the capacity to bring forth a talented team that will execute a brand-new vision and take programming to the next level,” says Director of Programs Clauder Aspilaire. “We are grateful for their partnership and the thoughtfulness of their burden-less funding process."

Partners for Youth with Disabilities

Four young women, one holding small dog, one with prosthetic leg, sit close together smilling on a sidewalk bench

“This program was such an integral part of my youth and a big contributing factor to the woman I have become.” So says one Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) participant. PYD’s goal is to create a world where young people with disabilities will be able to live with dignity and pride in who they are, and to lead self-determined lives filled with purpose. To make this happen, the organization works to build the skills and talents of young people with disabilities, and increase the inclusivity of workplaces, organizations, and communities. PYD received $75,000 from the Edith M. Ashley Fund, established in 1961 to support organizations or programming for people with physical disabilities. “Mentoring for anyone—but especially someone with a disability—is so important,” says the PYD participant. “Having people who looked like me and dealt with [similar things] taught me that I could have a thriving, beautiful life.”

The Boston Home

Mature darkhaired white wife and husband couple stand close and smile toward camera

The Boston Home provides exceptional clinical care, compassion, and innovative programs for adults with disabilities due to progressive and advanced neurological disorders. It is one of the few facilities in the region that meets the unique needs of this population. Residents are able to have custom motorized wheelchairs, iPads and computers with voice recognition, and B.Fit! wellness programs to help them live as independently as possible. The Boston Home received $75,000 from the Ashley Fund. Chris was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease and joined the B.Fit! program at The Boston Home in October 2018. Marguerite, Chris’ wife, says, “It has been a support and a safe harbor for Chris, a place where he has found meaningful relationships, where he has had a sense of purpose, and where he has been able to give and receive kindness…. At B.Fit!, Chris is not the person who is sick, or the person who has had such decline. He is around people like him, and he is valued for who he is exactly as he is.”

Other Field of Interest Funds at TBF support services for seniors, environmental protection, free access to the arts, and more. These funds have allowed organizations like Chica Project, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, and The Boston Home to fulfill their missions and improve the lives of people in Greater Boston.