Boston Foundation announces $500K in grants to address exceptional needs of area residents

Board of Directors responds to combined impact of rising prices, economic crisis,housing foreclosures on the region’s most vulnerable residents

October 27, 2008

Boston –An unusual announcement of grants totaling $500,000 by Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul S. Grogan was made this morning at a forum held at the Foundation. These grants are directed at regional organizations that provide a combination of immediate direct help to local residents in distress, as well as longer term support to catalyze change that will benefit vulnerable households.

Among the recipients were the Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay ,  The Greater Boston Food Bank , United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley , the National Consumer Law Center , Citizens Energy Corporation and selected programs overseen by the City of Boston, all of whom have created special programs to deal with this crisis.

“We see a number of alarming trends coming together to threaten area residents this winter,” said Grogan. “Higher food prices, volatile heating prices, shrinking public resources as a result of the national economic crisis and an impending recession pose serious peril for families already in distress in the region as winter begins. We saw a need to respond quickly to expand the capacity of organizations with the skills and networks to help.”

The grants were announced at a forum titled The Coming Winter: Helping Greater Boston’s Vulnerable Residents Survive It, which brought together a panel of experts versed in emergency response and familiar with populations deemed most at risk. Also invited were representatives of other leading funder organizations in the region, including the Barr Foundation , Eos Foundation , Fireman Family Foundation , Catholic Charities and Combined Jewish Philanthropies , as well as a range of service organizations dealing with the challenges.

The forum was moderated by David Boeri, veteran journalist and co-host of Radio Boston, a weekly news program broadcast by WBUR FM 90.9. Panelists for the program included Eliza Greenberg, Commissioner for Elder Affairs for the City of Boston; Deborah C. Jackson, CEO of the Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay; Joseph P. Kennedy II, Chair and President of Citizens Energy; Carol Tienken, COO of the Greater Boston Food Bank; and Bill White, Assistant Secretary of Federal Affairs for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth.

In addition to the panelists, the forum included experts and leaders from organizations on the front lines responding to issues of hunger, housing and heating, as well as those who work with vulnerable populations, including the city’s elderly, low-income residents and children.

Specific grants announced included:

  • Citizens Energy Corporation , $100,000 for direct oil assistance. The goal is to provide a final needed tank of oil to enable an additional 100 area homes have sufficient heat through the winter.
  • City of Boston , $50,000 for the Heat Works Plus Program, to make changes to address immediate needs this winter and also to work on weatherization programs to provide greater energy efficiency for City of Boston households with residents over the age of 60 or under the age of 6.
  • United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley, $100,000 for the Emergency Assistance Fund, to provide small amounts of direct financial assistance to help residents remain in their houses. The money will be disbursed through the Salvation Army, ABCD and other organizations.
  • National Consumer Law Center, $60,000, to cover bills currently in arrears for low-income residents and to make more people aware of utility discounts that have been made available to area residents in distress. This program represents a collaboration with the Fireman Family Foundation and the Barr Foundation.
  • City of Boston, $50,000 for Boston Community Centers to support neighborhood dinners for community building and resource sharing. The goal is to make residents better aware of food pantries, food stamps, utility discounts and other resources.
  • Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay, $60,000 for the Food Stamp Initiative. Massachusetts currently places 49th among 50 states for utilization of food stamps to which local residents are entitled. This grant will support the Red Cross’s work to make more people aware of food stamps through its network of food pantries.
  • The Greater Boston Food Bank, $75,000 for food pantry capacity building. The grants will be used to enable existing food pantries to serve more people, through extended hours, expanded personnel and better transportation.


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of over $964 million.  In 2007, the Foundation and its donors made more than $92 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of more than $90 million.  The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.  For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit or call 617-338-1700.