Boston Foundation announces $160,000 in planning grants for Health Starts at Home initiative

June 8, 2015

Boston – The Boston Foundation has announced planning grants of $40,000 each to four health and housing coalitions that seek to improve children’s health and housing stability, while decreasing costs associated with homelessness, rehousing, and healthcare.

The awards are part of the first phase of the Boston Foundation’s Health Starts at Home initiative, designed to bring housing and health organizations together to address the negative impact that a lack of stable, affordable housing has on children’s health outcomes.

“We are pleased to establish the Health Starts at Home initiative and fund this competition,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Health Starts at Home brings together the best of both the health and housing advocacy worlds, particularly where children’s health and family stability are concerned. We look forward to helping the four grantee partnerships strengthen and coalesce, as they fine tune their strategies to place and keep often transient families in long-term housing and help them engage in preventative health.”

The four coalitions are Building Bridges to Better Health, Chelsea Homes for Health, Designing and Stocking the Housing Pharmacy: Pairing Healthcare and Housing Dollars to Improve Stability and Health, and Mortar Between the Bricks: Building a Foundation for Child Health Through and Integrated Network of Support, Prevention & Intervention.

Twelve applicants representing partnerships between more than 50 organizations entered the Health Starts at Home planning grant competition in the winter of 2014. Following rigorous review by a 10-person panel, the four nine-month planning grants were awarded in late April. During the planning period, in addition to refining their interventions, each partnership  will work with the competition’s evaluation consultants, Health Resources in Action and the Urban Institute, to ensure that the systems are in place to collect data on savings to the housing and health-care systems as a result of the grants, and, again, on improved housing and health outcomes.

At the conclusion of the nine-month planning phase, the grantee coalitions will submit proposals for the implementation of funding that includes details about their refined model, outcomes and partnership roles. This second phase of the competition may also be open to partnerships that were not awarded a planning grant by invitation only. Following a second panel review, successful partnerships will receive three years of support totaling up to $200,000 per year to implement their program models and evaluation plans.

The partnerships supported in the first phase of Health Starts at Home are highlighted below.

Building Bridges to Better Health

Partners: Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Urban Edge

Model: Close to 2,000 families are currently sheltered in motels across Massachusetts. In addition to the stress of homelessness, these families are isolated from their home communities, endure cramped and unhealthy conditions, and lack amenities such as access to cooking facilities and healthy food. This pilot will focus on homeless children and their families currently living in one such motel where health and housing providers will coordinate on-site service delivery to improve access to health care, employment support, decent affordable homes and stabilization services. The partners will focus on integrating existing services, connecting families to routine health care, finding appropriate, stable housing and screening families for benefits eligibility.

Chelsea Homes for Health

Partners: The Neighborhood Developers, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, CONNECT, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, Roca

Model: This partnership includes major institutions in Chelsea, a mid-size city just north of Boston with a largely immigrant population. MGH Chelsea, which serves the majority of households in the community, will be the entry point for clients into the Chelsea Homes for Health program. In addition to routine screening for medical conditions, families receiving care in both the Pediatric and Obstetrical departments at MGH Chelsea will be screened for housing instability. The screening will provide MGH Chelsea with the knowledge and capacity to refer families to existing, robust services including benefits screening, financial counseling, workforce development, peer support for young mothers and housing assistance provided by Chelsea Homes for Health partner organizations.

Designing and Stocking the Housing Pharmacy:
Pairing Health Care and Housing Dollars to Improve Stability and Health

Partners: Children’s HealthWatch, BMC HealthNet Plan, Boston Public Health Commission, Madison Park Development Corporation, Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation, Boston Housing Authority, Tohn Environmental Strategies, Medical-Legal Partnership Boston, Vital Village Network, Project Hope and social service and community engagement advocates

Model: Based at Boston Medical Center, this partnership includes organizations that represent a wide range of players in the housing and health care sectors in Boston. Together they will create a seamless system of services for children under the age of four who receive medical services at Boston Medical Center. Medical staff often do not ask about a family’s housing situation because they can offer no “treatment.” This model will build on the existing Children’s HealthWatch interview protocol, enabling trained interviewers to ask the right questions and link families to the broad array of services that already exist in their community to help them find, retain, and improve their housing. 

Mortar Between the Bricks: Building a Foundation for
Child Health Through an Integrated Network of Support, Prevention & Intervention

Partners: Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital, Horizons for Homeless Children, LIFT-Boston

Model: This partnership includes a nationally-recognized medical provider, poverty law experts focused on policy reform and high-capacity direct service providers. Together they will identify at-risk, housing insecure and homeless Boston Children’s Hospital patients. They will provide interventions and services to stabilize families through an integrated cross-referral system and access to peer support. This model intentionally focuses both on services to the adults, as well as to the children based on a two-generation framework.


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of some $1 billion. In 2014, the Foundation and its donors made more than $112 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of nearly $112 million. In celebration of its centennial in 2015, the Boston Foundation has launched the Campaign for Boston to strengthen the Permanent Fund for Boston, Greater Boston’s only endowment fund supporting organizations focused on the most pressing needs of Greater Boston.  The Foundation is proud to be a partner in philanthropy, with nearly 1,000 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 that address the region’s most serious challenges. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.