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Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico makes nearly $1 million in new grants to aid Maria recovery, support those displaced to Massachusetts

Fund has now distributed more than $2 million; fundraising approaches $4 million

July 19, 2018

Boston – They build sustainable solar power systems in rural sections of Puerto Rico. They invest in entrepreneurs and microenterprises in communities in cities and towns across the island. They ensure displaced families have continued access to housing and health care.

And today, they are among 29 organizations in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico receiving a total of $951,300 in grants from Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico/Massachusetts Unido por Puerto Rico. With these grants, Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico has distributed nearly $2.1 million in relief, recovery and relocation support since Hurricane Maria swept through the island, over half of the nearly $4 million raised thus far in the fundraising campaign.

“The work going on here in Massachusetts and on the island of Puerto Rico is remarkable and heroic,” said Aixa Beauchamp, co-chair of the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico advisory committee. “It is also not nearly enough. While we continue our efforts to support recovery on the island, we call on government to step up and belatedly live up to its promise to care for American citizens on an island still vulnerable to future storms.”

Rebuilding infrastructure, promoting sustainability and encouraging entrepreneurs

The Fund made 13 grants totally $450,800 to organizations on the island of Puerto Rico that are focused on grassroots efforts to establish a more resilient, sustainable infrastructure and/or create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

“Recovery is not just focused on things, it has to focus on people. With these grants, we hope to both create opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs, but also provide a possible model for others seeking to make an impact with their dollars,” said Juan Carlos Morales, co-chair of the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico advisory committee.

The advisory committee has focused on a few key themes in distributing recovery grants – microenterprise, entrepreneurship, sustainability and green power initiatives. In all, 61% of the grants are classified as primarily supporting green projects and sustainability. 39 percent have a primary focus on entrepreneurship and microenterprise.

In targeting grassroots efforts, the committee has also sought out organizations from across Puerto Rico, of the 13 grants, just two focus on Metro San Juan – others support island-wide efforts, or focus on hardest-hit communities throughout the island, as well as Culebra and Vieques.

Relocation-related funds distributed throughout Massachusetts

Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico also made more than $500,000 in grants to 16 organizations in Massachusetts that are working to assist thousands of people from Puerto Rico living in uncertainty as they seek to rebuild their lives. Housing concerns continue to top the list of worries for evacuees, with the greatest support needs found in Hampden County and central Massachusetts.

As a result, the advisory committee has directed more than half of the grant dollars in this round of relocation grants to Springfield and Holyoke-based organizations, with about half of the remaining funds earmarked for programs in Worcester, Leominster and Fitchburg.

“We have heard throughout the months since Maria evacuees began arriving in Massachusetts that Springfield and Holyoke would be under the most strain – so we continue to target support there, even as we recognize that agencies from Boston to the Berkshires and Fitchburg to Fall River are serving those in need,” said Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, co-chair of the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico advisory committee.

Grants listed below include the grant award amount, the home office location of the grantee and a brief description of their area of focus. All grants are for general operating support unless otherwise specified.

Puerto Rico recovery grantees:

(Grantees are listed by amount, with service area and type in parentheses)

Casa Pueblo - $50,000 (Adjuntas, green energy/solar)

To install solar powered electrical systems for families whose medical needs are dependent on constant power, in the rural highlands of central Puerto Rico.

Grupo Guayacán - $50,000 (San Juan metro, microenterprise)

To expand their EnterPRize Competition to provide $2000 to 20 start-up venture teams to restart operations, keep their doors open, and resume their path to growth, and provide a Resiliency Special Track Prize of $2,500 to one top performing start-up team.

Para la Naturaleza - $50,000 (island-wide, sustainable agriculture)

To retrofit a community center with electricity supplied by solar energy and a high capacity water filtration system, and assist 3 agro-ecological farmers with micro-grants to help jump-start agricultural production.

Fidelicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martin Peña - $45,000 (San Juan metro, sustainable infrastructure)

To launch a rainwater detention and harvesting pilot project in the Buena Vista Santurce community, designed to reduce the risks of flooding, water contamination and exposure to health risks in this lower-income community.

Centro para Emprendedores - $40,800 (Isabella/Aguadilla, microenterprise)

To support the Bottom Up Business Recovery project, which is jointly led by Centro para Emprendedores and Foundation for Puerto Rico. The program strives to strengthen the business ecosystem on the northern side of Puerto Rico region through their tri-phase program of assessment, action plan development and coaching.

Programa de Educación Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) - $35,000 (Punta Santiago, microenterprise)

To support the recovery of Punta Santiago as a tourist and culinary destination by reactivating micro-enterprises and entrepreneurship through technical assistance, and by improving entrepreneurs’ access to capital, equipment, and job programs and consulting services. The grant targets support for the region’s fishing and microenterprise sectors.

Puerto Rico Community Foundation - $30,000 (islandwide, green energy/solar)

To support the Foundation’s Gift of Life campaign to establish relief hubs across the island and provide 100 health clinics with solar-electric kits built to be resilient in the event of another disaster.

La Maraña - $30,000 (Humacao, sustainable infrastructure)

To expand their “participatory recovery model” titled Imaginacion Post Maria to a third community, the hard-hit eastern municipality of Humacao. This model beings communities through a long-term planning process of imagining, planning and building designed to support long-term change.

Centros sor Isolina Ferré - $25,000 (Ponce/San Juan, microenterprise)

To support Operation Solidarity Economy, which trains local clothing makers on personal development and entrepreneurship, through coaching and workshops on starting and managing a business, marketing and business analysis.

Foundation for a Better Puerto Rico - $25,000 (Culebra, sustainable infrastructure)

To support a project to rebuild Culebra's major tourist destination and economic engine, Playa Flamenco.

Foundation for Puerto Rico - $25,000 (Aguadilla/Isabella, microenterprise)

To support the purchase and distribution of “Basic Business Resiliency Kits,” including water collection and filtration systems, indoor-outdoor solar lamps and wi-fi satellite antennas to improve disaster resiliency.

IDEBAJO - $25,000 (Salinas/Guayama, green energy/solar)

To provide training and materials for community youth and other residents of the Jobos Bay communities to perform energy use inventories, understand energy conservation and efficiency and give the skills to install small scale rooftop solar and storage installations (solar kits) for vulnerable residents.

Incubadora Microempresa Bieke - $20,000 (Vieques, sustainable agriculture)

To support a six-month project that trains community members on small-scale crop cultivation and marketing as a means of developing microbusinesses on Vieques. Volunteers will also work towards creating educational materials and talks about sustainable agricultural practices, and host a local radio show and public gazebo events for the wider community.

Massachusetts Relocation Grantees:

Catholic Charities – Springfield - $50,000

To assist families in their efforts to secure stable housing and providing up to 12 months of rental assistance, including case management and workshops.

Enlace de Familias Holyoke - $50,000

To the Holyoke Resettlement and Resource Center to support additional demand for services that will result as federal housing programs are withdrawn from families in need.

Holyoke Health Center - $50,000

To implement new software that would allow the health center to connect to databases in Puerto Rico and ensure evacuees are receiving continuity of care while they are in Massachusetts and after they return to Puerto Rico.

Career Point (Holyoke) - $40,000

To support the emergency needs of displaced Puerto Ricans through the Hurricane Response Program

Gandara Center (Springfield Resource Center) - $40,000

To provide rental supports and subsidies to relocating Puerto Rican families through the Springfield Family Resource Center.

New North Citizens Council (Springfield) - $35,000

To support the Welcome Center Housing Resource Program, focused specifically on meeting the ongoing housing and health needs of the evacuee community.

Centro Las Americas (Fitchburg/Leominster) - $33,000

To support continuing efforts to provide resources and ensure the housing, English language, job training and school enrollment needs of more than 300 evacuees are met.

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (Boston) - $30,000

To provide moving assistance, furniture and other needs to displaced families being settled at Villa Victoria, and support a disaster relief liaison and resident service program.

Spanish American Center (Leominster) - $26,000

To support the Bienvenidos Partnership, working with the Montachusett Opportunity Council through the Fitchburg Family Resource Center to secure housing for evacuees. Funds will support welcome programs for families, case management and expanded ESL programming.

Boston Medical Center - $25,000

To integrate their existing services and provide continued support for housing, as well as psychosocial support (therapy) specifically for evacuees, and medication and transportation assistance to and from the hospital.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Worcester - $25,000

To provide Welcome Home Kits including items such as bedding, cooking, kitchen and bathroom items to displaced Puerto Rican families who have secured new housing.

SER-Jobs (Fall River) - $25,000

To provide ESL courses and related educational supports targeting the needs of Puerto Rico evacuees seeking jobs in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Chelsea Collaborative - $20,000

To continue providing one-stop resource and referrals for newly-arriving families under the Chelsea United for Puerto Rico program.

Latino Education Institute at Worcester State University - $20,000

To support Club Educación, which incldes tutoring for K-12 students, ESL instruction for adults, and job assistance for Puerto Rican educators in the evacuee community.

Friendly House, Inc. (Worcester) - $16,500

To provide access to summer programming for Puerto Rican youth in collaboration with the local Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and Teen Youth Program.

Casa Latina, Inc. (Florence) - $15,000

To support Puentes (Bridges for Latinos), an information and referral program that provides key services to Puerto Rican families on housing, public healthcare resources, and employment opportunities, as well as periodic one-time support to individuals.

Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico was established as a partnership of the Boston Foundation and the Latino Legacy Fund. To learn more and for the latest information about Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico/Massachusetts Unido por Puerto Rico, visit tbf.org/puertorico.

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The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of more than $1 billion. In 2017, the Foundation and its donors paid $130 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of more than $194 million. The Foundation is a close partner in philanthropy with its donors, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. It also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), a distinct 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 tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.

The Latino Legacy Fund at the Boston Foundation, the first Latino-focused fund in Greater Boston, is a unique partnership between Latino philanthropists and leaders and the Boston Foundation. Its mission is to contribute to our region’s civic vitality by supporting issues and organizations that advance the socioeconomic status of Latinos while building and enhancing the leadership capacity of the entire Latino community.