Boston Foundation grants address need for economic opportunity: $75K Out of the Blue grant awarded to Boston tax coalition

September 25, 2008

Boston – Support for organizations that help create economic opportunity for Boston residents was a common characteristic among $2 million in grants announced by the Boston Foundation Board of Directors at its quarterly meeting on September 25. Grantees included a highly effective organization that helps retrieve tax payments for low-income residents as well as projects that specifically target minority  business development—and a partnership that will continue to address the Foundation’s long-time commitment to challenges and opportunities in public education.

“Many of the grants on this docket are entrepreneurial in intent, providing support for organizations that can in turn nurture new and emerging businesses in Boston’s inner city,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Small business is a wellspring of economic growth and these grants represent an investment in the long-term economic health of the region.”

A grant of $40,000 was awarded to Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation to enable the organization to pursue a merger, an acquisition or a partnership for the Nuestra Culinary Ventures Incubator. The incubator, which opened in Jamaica Plain in 2002, provides facilities and technical assistance to small-scale food entrepreneurs.

The goal of the grant is to preserve for the community a significant source of entrepreneurial support. The incubator currently houses a total of 39 caterers, bakers and specialty food producers and has supported the establishment of more than 100 culinary businesses since 2002. The search for a new merger or partnership for the incubator will guarantee that it continues to serve the community while at the same time releasing the funding it currently requires, which can then be applied to other programs undertaken by Nuestra Comunidad.

In another grant designed to support urban businesses, a grant of $100,000 to Initiative For A New Economy provides support for an organization that, in turn, seeks to increase the number of competitive and successful businesses owned and managed by people of color. INE is focused on supplier development, linking established corporations with minority business enterprises that can provide essential services. This is the third installment of funding support for INE's general mission, which completes an initial commitment made by the Foundation as a founding member of the organization. INE is a joint project of the City of Boston, the Boston Foundation, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Blue Cross Blue Shield Corporation and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley.

In the arts and culture sector, the Foundation has awarded a grant of $50,000 to launch a biennial awards program for artists in Greater Boston, supported by the Brother Thomas Fund. That fund was established at the Boston Foundation in 2007 to honor the legacy of Brother Thomas Bezanson, a ceramic artist of international standing whose residual estate came to the Boston Foundation to create a fund to support struggling artists. Eight artists will be named Brother Thomas Fellows in September 2009, with each receiving an unrestricted award.

A grant of $165,000 will enable New England Cable News to produce eight monthly programs focused on critical challenges and opportunities in education, from early childhood education through college completion rates. Programming will seek to bring together experts and leaders in the field as well as political leaders to explore the subject. This is the third year of collaboration between the Foundation and the regional cable news channel, which serves 3.6 million households across New England. The programming will raise awareness of critical issues through high-impact public service TV programming.

 Each quarter, the Boston Foundation makes an Out of the Blue Grant of $75,000—unsolicited and unrestricted—to an area nonprofit. These grants are designed to recognize exceptional leadership in regional nonprofits. This quarter, the grant was made to Boston Earned Income Tax Credit Action Coalition. The coalition was launched in 2001 by the Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Service as a coalition that includes 30 members, including area businesses, the City of Boston, the Internal Revenue Service, and community churches and agencies. It is designed to make sure that a maximum number of Boston residents apply for and receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can provide cash payments for low-income working families earning less than $40,000 a year. The Earned Income Tax credit program has been described as the nation’s foremost anti-poverty program, yet not all who qualify for the program take advantage of it.

To date, the Boston Earned Income Tax Credit Action Coalition has prepared more than 30,000 free tax returns for local residents, bringing $50 million back to Boston’s low-income taxpayers, including $19.1 million in tax credits.

In total, the Foundation’s Board announced more than $18 million in grants. That represents an increase to 23 in the number of discretionary grants made compared to September 2007, when 17 were approved. In addition, the average grant increased in size to $89,772 in 2008 from $41,607 in September 2007.


In addition to $2,064,750 in grants from Discretionary Funds, the Foundation also distributed $3,347,495 in grants from Designated Funds and $12,935,231 in Donor Advised Funds.

Discretionary grants are made from the Boston Foundation’s Permanent Fund for Boston, 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, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of over $900 million.  In 2007, the Foundation and its donors made more than $92 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of more than $155 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.

The following is a complete listing of the Boston Foundation’s Discretionary Grants made in this quarter:

Celebrity Series of Boston - $75,000. To support a strategic planning process.
Grantmakers in the Arts - $3,000. To support a joint convening of Grantmakers in the Arts and Grantmakers in Education to address arts education in public schools.
Institute of Contemporary Arts - $25,000. For targeted audience and admissions research.
Pew Charitable Trusts - $75,000. To support a state-wide, web-based data collection system for arts and cultural organizations.
United South End Settlements - $25,000. To support a traveling exhibit mounted at the Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists to explore the impact of merengue music on the visual arts of the Dominican Republic.
The Boston Foundation - $50,000. To support the creation of a biennial Brother Thomas Fellowship awards program for artists.

Harvard Law School - $15,000. To support the Boston Area Universities Election Improvement Project.
Associated Grant Makers - $50,000. To support the AGM Diversity Fellows Program.
The Boston Foundation - $165,000. To support a series of eight special public awareness programs focused on the issue of education.

Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation - $30,000. To support the Nuestra Culinary Ventures incubator.
Boston Earned Income Tax Credit Action Coalition - $75,000. An Out of the Blue Grant.
Initiative For a New Economy - $100,000. To support the organization’s efforts to link businesses owned by people of color with medium-to-large mainstream businesses.

EdVestors - $10,000. To support baseline research into the current state of arts education in Boston public schools.
Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government - $20,000. For dissemination of follow-up materials to the Achievement Gap Initiative conference.
Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy - $70,000. For the Teaching Policy Fellows Program.

Boston Foundation - $50,000. To support the public policy and advocacy activities of the Community Health Worker Initiative, a SkillWorks-based program focused on career advancement for community health workers.
University of Massachusetts-Boston - $25,000. To support a program of the New England Ethnic Newswire.

Northeastern University Center for Urban and Regional Policy - $35,000. To support the 2008 Greater Boston Housing Report Card.
Boston Foundation - $500,000. To address issues related to youth violence.

Boston Foundation - $25,000. To support the sponsorship budget.
Boston Foundation - $500,000. To provide technical assistance, strategic planning and other services to grantees of the Boston Foundation.
Boston Foundation - $100,000. To establish a small grants program focused on strategic investments that advance the Foundation’s priorities.
Center for Effective Philanthropy - $41,750. To support a survey of Foundation grantees.