Boston Foundation Authorizes $2.5 Million Loan Guarantee for Charter Schools

September 29, 2004

Boston – At the September 30th meeting of the Boston Foundation Board of Directors, the Foundation made a ten-year, $2.5 million program related investment in the form of a loan guarantee for the Massachusetts Charter School Loan Guaranty Fund, a project of the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency. The Fund will guarantee debt for the acquisition, construction, renovation, and leasehold improvement of charter school facilities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Guaranteed debt will be primarily in the form of private bank loans, Mass Development loans, and tax-exempt bonds. The Boston Foundation funds will be used to back charter school loan guarantees in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area.

“Perhaps the most difficult issue faced by charter schools is facilities. Each new commonwealth charter school has to find, improve, and manage its own facility – an enormously time consuming task,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “This guarantee fund will address that problem. The Boston Foundation has made charter schools a funding priority because we believe that they are an important innovation. We expect that this commitment will allow charter schools to spend more time on educational priorities and less time on the intricacies of real estate finance.”

Overall, the Boston Foundation authorized $1,007,698 in discretionary grants to support the work of nonprofit organizations in the Greater Boston community. In addition, the Foundation awarded $8,464,007 to nonprofits through Donor Advised Funds held by the Foundation, and $734,703 in designated fund grants to nonprofit organizations in Boston and throughout the country. The Foundation now focuses primarily on grants for special initiatives during the September and March Board meetings, and on its discretionary grantmaking at the December and June meetings.

This quarter’s $75,000 Out-of-the-Blue grant was made to Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), the primary provider of legal services to the poor in civil matters in this region. GBLS has had a long and distinguished record here, having pioneered efforts to secure asylum status for women facing gender persecution in their home countries, secured rights to decent wages and working conditions for low-wage workers, and developed a homeless unit which has tirelessly represented the homeless and advocated for policies to ameliorate and, hopefully, to eventually eliminate this problem.

“The legal system plays an enormous role in American life. The rights and benefits of a free society are meaningless unless there is a way to enforce them, and much of this is left to the legal system,” said Grogan. “Greater Boston Legal Services has been a stalwart in providing access to the legal system for person who otherwise couldn’t afford them, especially given the enormous funding cuts of recent years. Although it had to cut staff and budget, GBLS has proved a remarkably resilient organization, maintaining its effectiveness throughout. We have no doubt that this grant will be used to significantly contribute to the welfare of Boston’s low-income and disadvantaged population.”

The Out-of-the-Blue grants are unsolicited, one-year grants that are made to high performance organizations that are deemed to be making a difference in the community. The primary focus of these grants is to provide unrestricted support to established organizations in recognition of their highly effective work in areas of major interest to the Foundation. The program was launched in 2002.

Support for the Boston Foundation’s New Economy Initiative this quarter totaled $250,000, going to seven organizations working on youth education and development, and on technology capacity building for nonprofits. The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (ULEM) received a grant of $30,000 to support a program – the Technology Application Partnership – that will provide other nonprofit organizations with technology training and access. ULEM has created a model which establishes a technology infrastructure at the Urban League that other nonprofits and local businesses can utilize, sharing costs and reducing duplication, while still maintaining their individual identities. This grant will be used to test the market feasibility of the model and for marketing outreach and materials.

A grant of $25,000 to the Machine Science project at the John D. O’Bryant School Center for Excellence engineering laboratory will be used to expand this after-school program designed to help high school students from underserved Boston communities learn about math, science and technology by developing engaging hands-on engineering and science projects. Machine Science is the brainchild of founder and executive director Sam Christy, an inventor and entrepreneur, and actively engages its students with program mentors from the Edgerton Center at MIT.

TechMission Boston, a nonprofit working to prepare at-risk youth for college or technology careers at various faith-based community technology centers, received a grant of $30,000. Using a holistic approach towards the development of young people, TechMission uses a range of instructors and mentors to provide academic enrichment, technology skills, college prep and career choice development support at-risk youth and low-income adults at 14 sites, serving 500 youth and 300 adults.

A $50,000 grant to Health Care For All will support an internet-based eligibility screening and application tool to connect low-income families to a full range of public benefit applications for appropriate programs. Since Massachusetts has one of the lowest participation rates for public benefits compared to other states, this pilot program – the Massachusetts RealBenefits School Initiative – has the potential to provide healthcare access and information to significant number of residents who need it.

As a part of the Boston Foundation’s Community Safety Initiative, a grant to Suffolk University’s Juvenile Justice Center for $45,000 will be used to support the development and implementation of a new training model for MBTA police officers. Each day during the school year, thousands of Boston youth use public transportation to travel to and from school, and last year hundreds of youth were arrested each month, mostly for minor offenses. This program, New Approaches to Officer-Youth Interaction, will provide training to MBTA police officers and other criminal justice agency staff on approaches to working constructively with youth to reduce conflict, disproportionate confinement, and violence. The collaboration forged by this program – between the Juvenile Justice Center and the MBTA police leadership – is expected to lead to more effective policing and fewer unnecessary arrests.

In response to escalating street violence during the recent summer months, the Boston Foundation provided an unsolicited one-time grant to the Boston Centers for Youth and Families to keep 12 Boston Community Center sites and four swimming pools open across the City from August 16th to September 8, 2004, the start of the Boston public school year. There had been several high profile acts of violence that occurred in broad daylight and in public parks where large numbers of residents congregated, and the homicide rate was more than double the previous year’s rate. With community members and the City expressing concern about public safety, this effort was launched to ensure that there would be constructive opportunities for youth once camps and other summer programs closed. The Boston Foundation provided a total of $63,000 to achieve this goal, including today’s grant of $8,750 from the Community Safety Initiative, and two previously announced grants, a grant of $25,000 from the Community Safety Initiative, and a grant of $29,250 from the Donor Co-Investment Fund.

A number of time-sensitive grants were also awarded to Boston-area nonprofits this quarter. A grant of $75,000 was made to the Boston Lyric Opera to support the outdoor performance of Verdi’s Aida in September 2005, a presentation that will mirror the BLO’s very successful presentation of Carmen in 2002. The Boston Lyric Opera’s goal for this production is to reach 165,000 youth and adults, including 64 free preview programs presented at community centers, libraries, and other public venues with a focus on underserved Boston neighborhoods. Selected previews will be presented in multiple languages, with study guides printed in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian.

“This grant reflects the Boston Foundation’s interest in productions that provide access to a significant number of community residents and that develop a civic culture. We expect this to introduce large numbers of local audiences from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to the best of opera, enticing some of them to become regular main stage audience members,” said Terry Lane, Vice President for Program. “A signature event like this will also attract significant local and national attention, further enhancing Boston’s reputation and economy.”

Zoo New England, which manages the Franklin Park Zoo in Dorchester and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, received a $60,000 grant that will be used for a comprehensive strategic planning process. Franklin Park Zoo is a large, highly visible agency that could be a significant employer and economic engine in its low-income minority neighborhood, but it is at a critical point. Support for an analysis of its mission, board and staff structure, financial planning, public and private fundraising, and revenue generating opportunities is essential for the success of this important institution.

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) received a grant of $50,000 to support “smart growth” activities of its Greater Boston Institute. While the CLF is actively involved in a broad range of urban environmental issues, the Greater Boston Institute consolidates in one department CLF’s advocacy centering around Chapter 40B (the ‘anti-snob’ zoning law), and 40R (the ‘smart growth’ law), both policy priorities for the Boston Foundation. The advocacy emphasizes the inclusion of all those affected, including neighborhood residents, in planning processes; bringing best practices and innovative ideas into urban planning, and identifying resources and working to create a political will to implement plans once agreed upon. The Boston Foundation is the convener of the Commonwealth Housing Task Force, which developed the recommendations for the smart growth housing initiative known as Chapter 40R. That initiative was passed and signed into law last year, and it provides new incentives for cities and towns to allow denser development in smart growth locations.

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The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, has an endowment of almost $650 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 $3,615,000 in discretionary grants made this quarter:


Ballet Rox - $20,000

Boston Lyric Opera Company - $75,000

Zoo New England - $60,000


Tufts University/University College of Citizenship and Public Service - $15,000


Boston Foundation/ Thoughtbridge of Cambridge Massachusetts - $50,000

EdVestors - $50,000

Massachusetts Development Finance Agency - $2,500,000 Program Related Investment for the Massachusetts

Charter School Loan Guarantee Fund


Massachusetts Coalition of School-Based Health Centers, Inc. - $35,000


Conservation Law Foundation/ Greater Boston Institute - $50,000

Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund - $6,000

Northeastern University Center for Urban and Regional Policy - $25,000


Associated Grant Makers - $5,000

Boston History Collaborative/ “Boston Breakthroughs: 400 Years of Social and Nonprofit Innovations” - $13,698

Hispanics in Philanthropy - $25,000

MassINC. - $20,000

Neighborhood Funders Group - $10,000


Boston After-School for All Partnership - $30,000

Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership - $50,000



Boston Centers for Youth and Families - $25,000

Boston Centers for Youth and Families - $8,750

Suffolk University - $45,000


Boston Digital Bridge Foundation - $25,000

Health Care for All, Inc./ MassachusettsRealBenefits School Initiative - $35,000

Local Initiatives Support Corporation/ Community Development Sector Technology

Initiative - $60,000

Machine Science, Inc. - $25,000

North Shore Community Action Programs/CyberYouth After-School Program in Technology and Math - $20,000

Organizers’ Collaborative/ Boston Organizational Divide Initiative - $25,000

TechMission/ Boston Initiative - $30,000

Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts - $30,000


Greater Boston Legal Services - $75,000