The Boston Foundation today announced its first set of quarterly grants to area nonprofits made using new grant guidelines designed to increase the impact of the organization’s philanthropy. These grants reflect significant changes for the Foundation and a newly articulated set of goals and priorities announced earlier this year.
Among the changes is a focus on general operating support joined with larger, longer-term financial commitments made to organizations with a proven ability to serve as catalysts for innovation in the region. In addition, organizations that are closely aligned with the goals and priorities of the Boston Foundation are leading candidates for this kind of support.
“The changes encapsulated in these grants announced today reflect years of thought by this foundation, its Board, and a wide range of advisors from across the Greater Boston community about how best to deploy the resources we have,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Challenging times require a thoughtful and strategic response, but our goal remains the same—to make a meaningful and long-lasting difference on critical issues facing our region and the lives of our area’s residents. We continue to seek out new and better ways to respond to both the need we see today and long-term trends that will affect us all for years to come.”
Each grant announced today is aligned with one of the nine strategies articulated as a core part of the Foundation's work. These include:
These nine strategies combine to support two overarching goals for the Foundation's work: Greater Boston residents are successful and thriving; and Greater Boston neighborhoods and communities are vibrant, safe and affordable.
The general operating support grants included in today’s list include the following. The specific strategy reflected is provided in italics:
Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits, $200,000 with an expected total of $1 million over five years. The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits is a collaboration of funders that will support efforts to help nonprofits restructure in response to the current economic downturn by providing resources to catalyze promising collaborations. Enhance the long-term vitality of the Massachusetts nonprofit sector.
English For New Bostonians , $150,000. English for New Bostonians is a public-private partnership that provides grants and technical assistance to programs offering English for Speakers of Other Languages study in the City of Boston. Promote the career advancement and economic security of low-income individuals.
Family Independence Initiative – Boston , $150,000 with an expected total of $450,000 over three years. The initiative seeks to build networks of low-income families and support them in improving their financial stability, economic growth, education, health and housing. The grant will be paid in three annual equal installments. Increase neighborhood stability and the production and preservation of affordable housing for vulnerable populations.
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative , $100,000 with an expected total of $375,000 over three years. This grant is for general support of the Life Sciences Collaborative, to foster the growth of the sector and to advance an understanding of the economic conditions that affect the life sciences cluster as a whole. The grant is expected to be paid over three years. Invest in strategies that increase Greater Boston’s competitiveness, prosperity and efficiency and create vibrant urban neighborhoods with opportunities for all residents.
New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI), $125,000 with an expected total of $375,000 for general support of the Healthy People/Healthy Economy Initiative, a partnership between the Boston Foundation and NEHI, which seeks to improve the health and wellness of citizens in the Commonwealth by promoting healthy behaviors. Encourage healthy behaviors among Boston residents and increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity.
Posse Foundation , $125,000 with an expected total of $375,000 over three years. This is to provide general support as the organization seeks to broaden its impact, serve additional youth and expand programming all with the goal of increasing college access and success for Boston high school graduates. Increase the two- and four-year college graduation rate for low-income, minority and first-generation college students from public schools in Boston.
Pew Charitable Trusts , $75,000 with an expected total of $225,000 over three years. This grant offers general support for the Massachusetts Cultural Data Project, which collects longitudinal financial and operational data on arts and cultural organizations and provides individual nonprofits with financial reporting tools to strengthen their organizations. Strengthen and celebrate the region’s diverse audiences, artists and nonprofit cultural organizations. Enhance the long-term vitality of the Massachusetts nonprofit sector.
Not all grants announced are for general operating support. The docket includes the following:
Access Strategies Fund , $50,000, to support the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund, a project to promote and increase participation in the 2010 census in “hard-to-count” communities in Massachusetts.
The Boston Foundation , $25,000, to support Next Street Financial’s consulting work with the Bay State Banner.
Commonwealth Zoological Corporation, $25,000, for consulting costs to create a short-term business and operations task force to help the Zoo analyze its operations and potential budget scenarios to help make a case for transformative support to the State Legislature and the Governor.
FSG Social Impact Advisors , $25,000, to support its Community Foundations Insights Program which seeks to help community foundation make informed decisions about their operating models to achieve increased sustainability and community impact.
Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education , $20,000, to analyze the Boston Teachers Union contract by the National Council on Teacher Quality to compare Boston to other comparable local school districts to determine if Boston is able to compete for the highest quality teachers and to inform Boston’s upcoming collective bargaining negotiations.
New Repertory Theatre , $25,000, to provide a challenge grant toward the organization’s current debt obligation.
Out of the Blue Grant
The Boston Foundation has continued its practice of making an unrestricted, unsolicited grant to an organization that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and ability to create and sustain high-impact programming that sets a standard for other nonprofits and serves the community as a whole.
This Out of the Blue grant for $100,000 has been awarded to ROCA, Inc., a youth development organization located in Chelsea and serving high risk youth between the ages of 14 and 24 from the surrounding communities, including Everett, Revere, East Boston, Charlestown and Lynn as well as Chelsea itself. It as selected because it has shown a commitment to rigorous evaluation, data-driven decision making and program deign as well as to a continual process of strengthening and refining its own work.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Molly Baldwin, ROCA, Inc., has come to be recognized as a national model and has shown a period of growth in recent years for its deep connection to its community, the solid financial position it has achieved and for its record of success working with high-risk clients.
New guidelines reflect stress high-impact, high-performance organizations
The new grant guidelines are one piece of a broad effort on the part of the Boston Foundation to continue the long-term process of seeking to increase its impact on the Greater Boston region, using all the tools at its disposal—including commissioning original research to better understand trends and issues affecting the region, staging convenings and public forums to raise general understanding of trends and issues, and building broadly inclusive task forces to shape public policy responses, where that is determined to be needed.
This effort marks an important step towards becoming a more data-driven organization. The new strategies build upon the deep and broad understanding of the region drawn from the Boston Indicators project, which brings together open source data from a host of partner organizations to provide both a picture of the state of the region and a set of tools to examine the trends driving our economic competitiveness and our ability to build equity for area residents.
One result of the changes in grant making is a comparatively small number of competitive grants in the current docket, although through a variety of grant making programs, a large number of organizations in the region receive support from the Foundation.
About the Foundation
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of $695 million. In Fiscal Year 2009, the Foundation and its donors made $86 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of over $72 million. The Foundation is made up of some 900 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 www.tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.