Nonprofit Leaders Expect High Demand for Hunger, Heating, Housing and Health Assistance this Winter in Massachusetts

December 4, 2012

MassNeeds Funding Collaborative Dedicates $8.4 Million to Address Basic Needs and Encourages Others to Take Action

Press Contacts
Brooke McNally: 617-692-0517
Ted McEnroe: 617-338-3890
Boston – Today, during a statewide press conference call, nonprofit leaders raised awareness of the challenges many Massachusetts residents will face in meeting their basic needs this winter. Representatives from the MassNeeds funding collaborative, which includes 41 corporate, public and private foundations, also announced an $8.4 million commitment to support more than 150 nonprofits focused on hunger, housing, heating and health needs in Massachusetts this winter. The coordinated effort is nearly double the amount committed in 2011-2012 by MassNeeds collaborative members.


“The data show what we already know to be true – that thousands of Massachusetts families are struggling again this winter,” said Paul S. Grogan, President of the Boston Foundation, which is one of the founding members of the MassNeeds Collaborative. “MassNeeds is a coordinated effort to address basic needs across the Commonwealth, and it is a call to action for all of us in Massachusetts to do what we can to meet the need.”

In addition to identifying funding gaps and distributing financial resources, MassNeeds is encouraging others to take action as well. An enhanced central web presence has been designed to direct individuals interested in donating time, talent and financial resources to organizations that provide services in local communities – from Cape Cod to Springfield, New Bedford to Boston, Worcester to Lawrence, and many other areas. Interested individuals are invited to visit:

This is a record-breaking year for the annual MassNeeds effort. Founded in 2009 by the Boston Foundation, Eos Foundation and Highland Street Foundation, the collaboration has benefitted from a partnership with the Associated Grant Makers, the regional association of philanthropic organizations. In 2011-2012, collaborating funders committed $3.7 million to winter needs.

“News headlines may suggest that an economic recovery is underway, but we continue to see increased demand,” explained Catherine D’Amato, President and CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank, a MassNeeds grant recipient. The Greater Boston Food Bank, which supplies food to 550 hunger relief agencies and more than 30 of its own direct service programs across eastern Massachusetts, saw a 23 percent increase in the number of people it served from 2005 to 2009. “We are still collecting data, but evidence suggests double-digit growth has continued since then. We remain committed to providing at least one meal a day to every person in need in our service area to end hunger here.”

In addition to food assistance, many people are concerned about home heating costs this winter. The US Energy Information Administration predicts that consumers in Massachusetts will pay more to heat their homes this year due to rising oil prices and colder temperatures, even as pressure continues on state and federal programs designed to provide needed subsidies for low-income Massachusetts residents.

“Every year when cold weather hits, tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents are forced to choose between heat, food, medicine and other necessities. Last year ABCD received more than 22,000 applications for fuel assistance. This year with 45,000 residents in danger of losing their unemployment benefits before the New Year, the misery index will be higher than ever. We are very concerned about the desperate situation faced by seniors, children and families struggling to heat their homes through the bitter New England winter,” said Kathy Tobin, Energy Programs Director at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD).

Even though the housing market in Massachusetts is showing signs of a recovery, many residents still struggle to ensure they have adequate shelter. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are more than 16,000 homeless people in Massachusetts and many more are struggling to keep up with their rental and mortgage payments. Providing resources to organizations dedicated to housing issues remains an important giving area for the MassNeeds collaborative.

“We know permanent supportive housing is a cost-effective and successful way to end the homelessness of those in need,” said Joe Finn, President & Executive Director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance. “Yet after five straight years of declines in chronic homelessness, it is distressing that we still see homeless persons on the street. Initiatives like MassNeeds are critical in supporting efforts to ensure that no person must spend the winter on the streets.”

“MassNeeds is a one-of-a-kind funding collaborative in Massachusetts that builds bridges and opens lines of communication between funders to address unmet needs across Massachusetts. By communicating and working together through this effort, the impact of all of the individual donations is greater and we can be assured that major gaps are now being filled,” said Blake Jordan, Executive Director of the Highland Street Foundation, which is a founding member of the MassNeeds funding collaborative.

“The rise in childhood hunger, triggered by the recession four years ago, is now, unfortunately, a steady state for many families in Massachusetts,” said Andrea Silbert, president of the Eos Foundation. “Research tells us that persistent childhood hunger has a lasting impact on health and educational outcomes for children, which, ultimately, creates long-term impact on our society and our economy. We must continue to focus our support on this critical issue that affects so many.”


Founded in 2009, MassNeeds is a coordinated effort, driven by corporate, private and public foundations, to address urgent hunger, housing, heating and health needs across Massachusetts during the winter. MassNeeds is dedicated to raising awareness about basic needs, identifying funding gaps, highlighting organizations that help Massachusetts residents and catalyzing others to take action. For more information, please visit: