Twelve Greater Boston organizations receive $650,000 for new phase of “Culture for Change”

The Boston Foundation, Barr Foundation relaunch CfC to empower youth as agents of change through culture

July 9, 2012

Boston – The Boston Foundation and the Barr Foundation today announced that twelve organizations will share $650,000 in grants to begin a new phase of Culture for Change. The program, originally piloted in 2008 by the Barr Foundation, is a unique approach to out-of-school time youth development. Centering on partnerships between professional artists and youth workers, Culture for Change enables youth to build fluency in an art form while both exploring and taking leadership on issues of racial justice that are of importance to them.
This year, the Barr Foundation partnered with the Boston Foundation to implement the next phase of the program, engaging a broad cross-section of Boston youth ages 15 to 21 who have few opportunities to access culturally rooted artistic programs and are eager to explore issues of racial justice.
The idea of Culture for Change emerged out of a year of research and focus groups involving youth workers, artists, and Boston youth that was sponsored by the Barr Foundation in 2007 and 2008. That research pointed to a trio of clearly-expressed needs: youth workers looking for more powerful tools, artists looking for positive ways to engage youth, and youth looking for more creative, meaningful out of school activities. By pairing youth workers with professional artists, Culture for Change offered a new way to meet all three needs at once. Barr helped Culture for Change test this idea as a pilot in 2008. Early results were so positive, the Foundation made a two-year grant in 2009 to help Culture for Change reach more youth.
“In the nonprofit sector,” says Patricia H. Brandes, Executive Director of the Barr Foundation, “young people are often referred to as ‘beneficiaries’ of charitable efforts, when in fact they are the change makers, and our best hope for a more vibrant, just, and sustainable world. Culture for Change recognizes this fact and equips youth with one of the most powerful tools for challenging and changing an unjust world – the arts. Barr is thrilled for this new partnership with the Boston Foundation to deepen and expand this work in years to come.”

“Boston’s remarkable diversity, especially among its younger residents, creates an unprecedented opportunity to build communities and a society where everyone, regardless of race, culture or ethnicity, has equal access to goods, services and opportunities,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Using the power of culture and the arts, we hope to help young people understand how racism and other factors undermine society’s potential, and inspire them to lead efforts to increase dialogue and dismantle historic barriers.”
“There is no question that undoing institutional racism is a tall order for youth or for any of us,” said F. Javier Torres, Senior Program Officer for the Arts at the Boston Foundation. “But we cannot settle for anything less, and cultural exploration is a powerful tool in the change-maker’s arsenal. By giving young people a sense of identity and the skills to engage community, build cross-cultural relationships and spark dialogue, we can make them powerful agents of change.”
Culture for Change gives participants a level of fluency in an artistic discipline, such as theater, music, or even DJ-ing. This includes an understanding of the history of the art form (especially in relation to one’s own ethnic or cultural heritage), command of core technique, and the ability to reinterpret both based on life experiences. Youth then use this artistic training as a vehicle for effective cultural expression. This encourages the creativity, critical thinking, respect, and awareness of self and others needed to bridge cultural and racial inequities. Those skills make up four of the 12 skills identified by Boston After School and Beyond as essential to prepare students to excel in school, in college, and in life – part of the Achieving, Connecting, and Thriving (or “ACT”) Framework.
The twelve recipients of 2012 Culture for Change grants were all recipients of previous Culture for Change grants. They were selected based on their past work with CfC, their organizational learning culture and desire to grow, and with an eye toward building a cohort that was diverse in terms of organizational size, location, and population served. Grantees will be paired with partner organizations for support and feedback.
Boston Asian: Youth Essential Service - $50,000
Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative - $60,000
Greater Boston Nazarene Compassionate Center - $50,000
Hawthorne Youth and Community Center - $50,000
Hyde Square Task Force - $50,000
Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción - $50,000
Maverick Landing Community Services - $55,000
Project Hip-Hop - $60,000
Sociedad Latina - $50,000
The Theatre Offensive - $65,000
The Urbano Project - $60,000
West End House Boys & Girls Club - $50,000


The Boston Foundation , Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of $850 million.  In 2011, the Foundation and its donors made almost $78 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $81 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.
In 2012, the Boston Foundation and The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) merged, with TPI operating as a distinct unit of the Boston Foundation.  TPI pioneered the field of strategic philanthropic advising over 20 years ago and remains a national leader today. Through its consulting services and its work to advance the broader field of strategic philanthropy, TPI has influenced billions of dollars of giving worldwide. TPI’s Center for Global Philanthropy promotes international giving from the U.S. and indigenous philanthropy abroad.
For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.
The Barr Foundation is guided by a vision of a vibrant, just, and sustainable world with hopeful futures for children. Its mission is to support gifted leaders and networked organizations working in Boston and beyond to enhance educational and economic opportunities, to achieve environmental sustainability, and to create rich cultural experiences - all with particular attention to children and families living in poverty.
The Foundation’s domestic work focuses on providing quality education, mitigating climate change, and enhancing cultural vitality.  Barr’s education and arts investments are strictly focused on Boston. Its climate work includes statewide, regional, and some national investments.
Since 2010, Barr has also been exploring opportunities for global investments. The Barr Global team is building a portfolio of projects that delivers measurable improvements in the interconnected areas of livelihoods, health, environment and education, predominantly in rural areas. Investments are currently focused in sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and India.
For more information about the Barr Foundation, visit