Boston Foundation fall grants focus on innovation, ethnic health disparities and the digital divide

September 28, 2005

Boston –The Boston Foundation Board of Directors announced more than $9 million in new grants for area nonprofits at its meeting on September 29. This includes an award of $125,000 for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative that combines the Foundation’s focus on Greater Boston’s ability to compete in a global market and the Foundation’s role as a convener of regional leaders, bringing people together to create an informed civic agenda.

The Foundation’s grant will strengthen efforts begun in 2003 in the Life Sciences Summit, a collaboration led by Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard, Charles Vest, then-president of MIT, and Michael Porter, head of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Harvard Business School. The summit was created to leverage the state’s position as a world leader in the life sciences. More recently, the project has been overseen by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state’s development agency for economic innovation.

The Foundation’s grant will be used to convene a council of high-level leadership from the state’s pharmaceutical, bio-technology, medical instrument and health care industries to develop a Massachusetts Life Sciences Plan. The role of this council is to identify and foster opportunities for integration and partnerships among the industries in this broad economic sector, which is critical to the region’s economy.

“We cannot afford to be complacent about our ability to compete in the new world economy despite an extraordinary record of achievement in recent years,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “The pace of change is only getting more intense. Greater Boston has a great resource in the power of its universities and corporations, but we need to leverage those resources through collaborative efforts to continue to prosper.”

Another important part of the regional economy—the nonprofit sector—is the target of a series of grants, including a $100,000 grant to The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit founded and incubated by Bain and Company. Bridgespan’s mission is to identify and recruit talented individuals who are interested in leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. The project looks ahead to a major change of leadership in this area, as baby-boomers retire and hundreds of new leaders are needed to lead and strengthen these important organizations. Bridgespan will recruit talent from Greater Boston’s graduate schools, the private sector and the nonprofit sector.

The Health and Human Services sector has received grants totaling $220,000. This includes a partnership between the Foundation and the Boston Public Health Commission, which will receive a $100,000 grant to address significant disparities in health outcomes for Boston residents who belong to different racial and ethnic communities. This grant is part of a $1.1 million public-private partnership that supports a number of organizations using a range of strategies to close the health-care gap in this city. In particular, the grant from the Foundation will be used to create a uniform data tool to collect and report information, making it easier to track outcomes by racial and ethnic categories in the area’s acute care hospitals, and track progress made on this issue.

The Boston Foundation’s $75,000 quarterly Out Of The Blue Grant, a significant unrestricted and unsolicited award, was given to the Chelsea Human Services Collaborative, whose mission is to bring leaders and residents from across the community together to enhance the health and well-being of the city.

A $50,000 grant for the New Center for Arts and Culture and a smaller grant for the Island Alliance represent the confluence of several Foundation objectives. Together, both are designed to increase capacity in the region’s cultural and environmental nonprofit institutions and they represent significant investments in the future of the Greenway—the new urban space created by the removal of the Central Artery. The Island Alliance, a nonprofit partner of the National Park System, expects to launch a capital campaign to build an island visitor center which will likely be the first structure to be built on the Greenway. This collaboration represents the continuation of a long-term commitment by the Foundation to renewing and reclaiming the Boston Harbor as a major asset for the city. The grant to the New Center for Arts and Culture is designed to engage civic and cultural leaders in a conversation about the mission and the design of the new museum.

In other Arts and Culture awards, the Faith Quilts project has received a grant of $15,000 for the final phase of the project, which has to date involved more than 600 quilters from a wide range of faith traditions in a project created to promote tolerance in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001.

Another theme that connects grants across several sectors is the need to improve education for local residents, who increasingly will compete for jobs in a global market that requires world-class skills.

“Our economic well-being stands or falls on the skills and education of the citizens of the Commonwealth, and we know that our education system must prepare the next generation to be the knowledge workers of the future,” said Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “In addition, Boston continues to draw an immigrant population that needs 21st century skills to honor the promise the United States holds out to all who come here. We need to provide career ladders for older residents to enable them to find more productive employment. This is critical both for those seeking work and those seeking skilled workers to sustain economic growth.”

An explicit focus on immigration is the goal of a grant for $25,000 to the John F. Kennedy Foundation to create a series of forums about immigration to Boston.

Two grants expected to have an impact on the need to improve skills and access to the internet are focused on overcoming the digital divide. They are part of the New Economy Initiative, a five-year effort by the Boston Foundation to prepare people in Boston for full participation in a technology-driven world. A grant of $65,000 to DotWell will help create a model for providing free, high-speed internet access for the Dorchester community. A similar project in the South End will install a RoofNet mesh networking system for the Castle Square Tenants Association at a cost of $50,000. Both will provide a critical tool for school children and adults looking to strengthen their skills.

In a more direct grant to improving education, the Foundation has granted $75,000 to EdVestors to raise funds and support projects that strengthen teaching practices in Boston’s public schools. EdVestors operated under the fiscal sponsorship of the Foundation and was housed in its incubator space. This grant reflects changes as EdVestors becomes an independent nonprofit.

A second education grant of $25,000 to the Gardner School in Brighton will support the new position of Principal on Assignment. Long-time Gardner principal Catalina Montes will staff the position, providing assistance to schools in the Boston system that are developing new, learning-oriented after-school programs and other supportive services.

In the area of housing, a sector of special interest to the Foundation because of its impact on the lives of area residents, a $20,000 grant to the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Social Policy will be used to evaluate the RAFT program, the state’s only homelessness prevention program. The state-wide program provides comparatively small direct grants of cash to families that are at immediate risk of becoming homeless. This joint effort of the Foundation, the Fireman Family Foundation and state government will create a central data repository for homelessness prevention efforts and outcomes for the first time.

In addition to $1,495,000 in grants from Discretionary Funds, the Foundation also distributed $1,368,994 in grants from Designated Funds and $6,556,860 in Donor Advised Funds.

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 residents across a broad range on 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 wish to support. Designated grants are made from Funds established by donors to support one or more of their favorite nonprofit organizations in perpetuity.


The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, has an endowment of almost $686 million. In 2004, the Foundation made $63 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, and received gifts of $53.4 million. The Boston Foundation is made up of 850 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.

The following is a complete listing of the Boston Foundation’s $1,495,000 in Discretionary grants made in this quarter:

The Faith Quilts Project - $15,000
Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities - $5,000
New Center for Arts and Culture - $50,000

Boston Foundation—IDEAS Boston - $25,000
City to City Boston - $25,000
John F. Kennedy Library Foundation - $25,000

EdVestors - $75,000
Gardner Extended Services School - $25,000

Island Alliance, Inc. - $25,000
Northeastern University Center for Urban and Regional Policy - $25,000

Boston Public Health Commission - $100,000
GreenLight Fund - $100,000
University of Massachusetts Boston - $20,000

Boston Main Streets - $25,000
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative - $125,000
Neighborhood of Affordable Housing - $20,000

Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy - $105,000
Bridgestar/The Bridgespan Group - $100,000
Center for Effective Philanthropy - $25,000

Associated Grant Makers Summer Fund - $5,000
Boston After School & Beyond - $30,000

Boston Foundation - $40,000

Boston Partnership for Older Adults - $35,000
Castle Square Tenants Association - $45,000
DotWell - $65,000
Harbinger Associates - $35,000
Local Initiatives Support Corporation $45,000
Organizers’ Collaborative, Inc. - $25,000

Bay Cove Human Services - $15,000
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center - $10,000
Boston Employment Service/STRIVE - $15,000
Centro Latino de Chelsea - $15,000
Community Economic Development Center of S.E. Mass. - $15,000
Dorchester Nazarene Compassionate Center - $10,000
El Centro del Cardenal - $10,000
Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses - $20,000
Health Professionals Training Institute - $15,000
Helping Adults Learn Today - $10,000
Julie’s Family Learning Program - $15,000
Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition - $20,000
W.A.I.T.T. House, Inc. - $10,000

Chelsea Human Services Collaborative - $75,000