Boston Foundation To Invest $1.5 Million in Low-Income Housing

March 24, 2004

Boston – At the March 25th meeting of the Boston Foundation Board of Directors, the Foundation approved a ten-year, $1.5 million program related investment to finance housing projects serving low-income individuals.  By making this money available to the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), a quasi-public financial intermediary that finances community development projects in low-income Massachusetts cities and towns, the Foundation is significantly enhancing CEDAC’s existing resources at a time of rapidly growing need.  It is expected that this investment will facilitate the production of at least 1125 units of housing, either single room occupancy or efficiency apartments, for Greater Boston low-income individuals.

The Boston Foundation also authorized $814,328 in discretionary grants to support the work of nonprofit organizations in the Greater Boston community.  In addition, the Foundation awarded $6,589,306 to nonprofits through Donor Advised Funds held by the Foundation, and $349,127 in designated fund grants to nonprofit organizations in Boston and throughout the country.  The Foundation now awards the majority of its discretionary fund grants in December and June.  The “off cycle” meetings, in September and in March, are now devoted to consideration of special initiative applications and time-sensitive requests that need attention before the next Board meeting.  This quarter’s grants focus primarily on the New Economy Initiative and the Community Safety Initiative grants.

“The affordable housing crisis facing our poorest residents has reached critical proportions, and we see this innovative funding mechanism – the use of program related investments – as a significant tool we can use to enhance and leverage Massachusetts’ existing housing resources,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation.  “By targeting development projects that provide housing to very low-income, often formerly homeless families, we are focusing on a population that has been hit especially hard during the past decade.  This investment takes advantage of the Foundation’s significant endowment, allowing us to initiate a program of considerable scale, with great promise of social change.  We are confident that CEDAC will use these funds to provide the working capital needed by nonprofit developers to advance these projects.”

CEDAC, formed 25 years ago to provide financial resources for organizations engaged in community economic development, is expected to use this loan to create revolving funds to be used for pre-development and site acquisition loans for low-income housing, especially single room occupancy (SRO) housing.  SRO housing is an important source of shelter for the single, working poor, often consisting of rooms leased on a weekly basis with common kitchens and bathrooms.  The stock of SRO housing has been under pressure for years, and the recent real estate boom has led to the conversion of many of the last SRO housing into single or two family housing.  Adding to the problem, in today’s intensely competitive real estate environment, funding sources are more risk-averse, and pre-development costs have skyrocketed.  These new resources will be used to specifically serve the SRO market segment.

The New Economy Initiative, a five-year program designed to increase digital equity for young people and adults, enabling them to succeed in the new economy, awarded grants to seven Greater Boston organizations, totaling $220,000.  This initiative also builds the technology capacity of nonprofit organizations in this area.  Included in this quarter’s grants are funding for using technology to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of four nonprofit sectors.  A grant to the New England Foundation for the Arts supports the Foundation’s active investment in the arts and culture sector by investing in the Online Cultural Marketplace, an information hub for linking, marketing and boosting artists and arts organizations, and the New England Cultural Database, a comprehensive, searchable online data and research tool for all stakeholders in the creative sector.  Support for the Boston Main Streets will build the technology capacity of 19 independent nonprofit Main Street organizations representing hundreds of local businesses.  An investment in Masachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)’s web strategy will build overall capacity of immigrant and refugee serving MIRA members, stakeholders, and vendors.  A grant to Historic Boston Inc. focused on creating a single shared database, accessible to the four key participating organizations, will improve the effectiveness of historic preservation field and foster collaborative action.

Grant renewals in the New Economy Initiative went to Year Up, a very successful and innovative IT training and internship program for 17 – 23 year olds, which is scaling up and developing for expansion, both locally and nationally.   A grant to the Boston Area Advanced Technology Education Center will enable further coursework and certification of Oracle for high school, community college and UMass faculty members, paving the approach by which BATEC will train faculty and align the curriculum at various levels.  The grant will also provide higher-level technology training and technical assistance to community-based organizations to further advance their capacity to align with IT career ladder approaches for adults.  A grant to the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science is aimed at fueling the partnership between the O’Bryant School, Northeastern University, Parametric Technology Corporation, and the Museum of Science.

The Foundation’s Community Safety Initiative made a grant to Community Resources for Justice to support a public opinion study that will assess the thinking of Greater Boston and Massachusetts residents about criminal justice policy as it relates to sentencing, corrections and prisoner reintegration.  By documenting public opinion, the proposed poll will provide information to legislators and policymakers that they can “get smart on crime” by implementing proven and cost-effective reforms in the Commonwealth with the support of residents and voters.  It will also provide critical information about the perceptions of safety and crime in communities that are a high priority of the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy.

A grant has also been made to the Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform to convene researchers and national experts in the corrections and criminal justice fields.    The Commission’s goal, under the leadership of Scott Harshbarger, former Massachusetts Attorney General, will be to gather existing data and conduct new research around best practices in corrections nationally.  The findings will support the work of the 15-member Commission as it prepares to make recommendations for improving practices within the corrections systems.  Although the Foundation does not usually provide support for commissions formed by government entities, in this case, given the Foundation’s leadership through the Community Safety Initiative, this represents a unique opportunity to influence changes in a system that disproportionately impacts the low-income communities that are a high-priority of the Boston Foundation.

A grant to fund a campaign to promote the recommendations of the Commonwealth Housing Task Force was approved.  The Task Force released a report in November that recommended a comprehensive approach to address the severe Massachusetts housing problem.  If implemented, these recommendations could fundamentally change the dynamics of housing production in the Commonwealth.  The report has generated a great deal of interest in the legislature, among businesses, academics, and other stakeholders.  Legislation to implement the Task Force’s recommendations will be introduced shortly, and advocacy for the public policies addressing the affordable housing issue is a priority for the Foundation.

Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses (FDNH) will receive funding to address long-standing organizational development needs at a critical, yet hopeful, juncture in the organization’s history.   This vital organization, which provides social, recreational, health, education, and family support services to more than 20,000 low and moderate-income Boston residents each year, has accumulated significant financial problems over the past two years.  FDNH responded by significantly curtailing expenses and by contracting with a consultant for an organizational assessment and recommended solutions.  The Boston Foundation, which has a distinguished track record in providing capacity building support to critical neighborhood organizations encountering difficulties, approved a grant to FDNH to reposition the organization for the future needs of its community.

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The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, has an endowment of more than $630 million, made grants of  $48 million to nonprofit organizations, and received gifts of $38 million last year. The Boston Foundation is made up of 750 separate charitable funds, which have been established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a civic leader, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to build community. For more information about the Boston Foundation and its grant making, visit , or call 617-338-1700.

Discretionary grants are made from the Boston Foundation’s Community Fund, a collection of unrestricted gifts made to the Foundation to be distributed to nonprofit groups working to meet the needs of Greater Boston’s residents across a broad range of issues.  Donor Advised grants are made from Funds established by donors who want to play an active role in selecting the organizations and programs they support. Designated grants are made from Funds established by donors to support one or more of their favorite nonprofit organizations in perpetuity.

The following is a complete listing of the Boston Foundation’s $814,328 in discretionary grants made this quarter:

ARTS AND CULTURE – two grants totaling $35,000

Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston - $10,000

Boston History Collaborative - $25,000

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT – four grants totaling $64,228

Allston-Brighton Healthy Boston Coalition - $10,000

Boston Foundation/Boston Charter Day Celebration - $4,228

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce/Talent Retention Report - $25,000

Voice and Future Fund - $25,000

EDUCATION – one grant totaling $10,000

Fund for Teachers - $10,000

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES – two grants totaling $60,000

Boston Foundation/Homelessness Prevention Initiative - $50,000

MassINC - $10,000

HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT – six grants totaling $85,100

Boston Foundation/Commonwealth Housing Task Force Report - $12,000

CenterPoint Foundation - $25,000

Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association - $10,000

Northeastern University/CURP/Housing Strategy Report - $13,100

Northeastern University/CURP/Commonwealth Housing Task Force Campaign - $25,000

NONPROFIT SECTOR – 2 grants totaling$125,000

Boston Digital Bridge Foundation - $25,000

Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses - $100,000

OUT OF SCHOOL TIME – one grant totaling $75,000

Associated Grant Makers/Summer Fund - $75,000

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT – one grant totaling $100,000

English for New Bostonians - $100,000


COMMUNITY SAFETY INITIATIVE – two grants totaling $40,000

Crime and Justice Institute/Community Resources for Justice - $15,000

Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform - $25,000

NEW ECONOMY INITIATIVE – 7 grants totaling $220,000

Boston Main Streets - $30,000

Historic Boston - $30,000

John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science - $30,000

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition - $30,000

New England Foundation for the Arts - $40,000

University of Mass/Boston/BATEC - $30,000

Year Up - $30,000