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Open Door Grants

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Responding to the ideas and needs of the community

To complement our program area-targeted approach, the Boston Foundation distributes a portion of its resources via its Open Door Grants program, which responds to expressed opportunities and needs in the communities we serve.

We encourage new and existing nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston that are not currently aligned with the strategies, goals and approaches pursued in the Foundation's five impact areas to pursue open Door Grants for support of their efforts to meet existing needs or test new Ideas and innovations that address the most critical challenges and biggest opportunities facing our community.

For more general information about the program, review the guidelines below. You can also explore our Open Door Grants FAQs.

  Key Dates

Decisions announced for August 2019 applications: mid-December 2019

Next application deadline: January 31, 2020

  Resources

Program Eligibility

What Can I Apply For?

  • General operating support or project support (including capacity-building projects)
  • Grant funding ranging from $10,000 to $50,000
  • Grants are made for one year at a time and for up to two years in a row, with a renewal application required for those seeking a second year of funding

Who Is Eligible?

An eligible applicant would be an existing or new organization that:

  • Is not in direct conflict with the strategies, goals and approaches pursued by the Foundation’s five impact areas
  • Has a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit designation from the IRS or operates under the fiscal sponsorship of a tax-exempt nonprofit (Your organization is responsible for having that relationship in place before submitting an application.)
  • Primarily serves the people of the cities and towns in the Foundation’s catchment area, with the exception of regional, statewide or national public policy efforts that may benefit a substantial portion of the people in the Foundation’s catchment area
  • Aligns with the Foundation’s Values Statement, which seeks to broaden participation; foster collaboration; and heal racial, ethnic and community divisions
  • Does not discriminate in the hiring of staff or the provision of services on the basis of race, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability
  • Has not submitted an application within the past 12 months

Exclusions

The Boston Foundation does not make grants for capital construction costs, endowments, medical or academic research, scholarships, sectarian or religious purposes, or to support candidates for political office. Private non-operating foundations, 501(c)(4) organizations, and Section 501(a)(3) Type III Non-functionally Integrated organizations are not eligible to apply. In addition, grants are not made to individual persons or individual schools. Schools must apply through their school districts and districts may submit one application every 12 months.

  Note

Open Door Grants are especially focused on organizations serving and building power in communities historically excluded from institutional philanthropy and whose leadership reflects the communities they serve. Examples include, but are not limited to: communities of color; the LGBTQIA community; immigrants and refugees; people with disabilities; poor or low-income people; youth and seniors. Organizations that work on behalf of seniors or individuals with physical disabilities are especially encouraged to apply for an Open Door Grant as the Foundation has funding specifically designated for these purposes.


A pre-conversation is not necessary to apply for an Open Door Grant; however, if you have questions please email us and a member of our grants management staff will be happy to assist you.

Email us

How to Apply

Complete an online narrative application. If your organization received an Open Door Grant and you wish to apply for a second year of support for the same program or work, please see the Renewals section below.


Deadlines

The Foundation considers applications biannually for Open Door Grants. The upcoming application dates are listed below.

Application Deadline

Applicants Notified (via email)

August 1, 2019 Mid-December 2019

january 31, 2020

Mid-June 2020

We do not accept more than one application per 12 month period. If you have any questions regarding when your organization is eligible to resubmit an application for funding, please email us and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.

Application process stats

  Avoid technical difficulties!

While the Boston Foundation website performs best in Firefox or Chrome, please use Internet Explorer to fill out the forms. Be sure to close your Internet browser between sessions or it will open a new, blank form rather than your saved form. In order to return to an in-progress application, scroll to the bottom of the screen and select “save and return later.” If you have saved an online application form previously, you can access your account again. This should bring you to the main application portal with a full listing of your saved applications. If you encounter technical difficulties, please send us an email and a member of our team can assist you.


If you applied for an Open Door Grant in the past, you likely completed a Giving Common profile. Please note that the Giving Common profile is no longer a requirement for submitting an Open Door Grant application or renewal application. To learn more about this change, please visit the FAQ Page.

Application Evaluation Process

All applications are reviewed holistically. Generally, we take into account many funding considerations when reviewing applications. In addition to those criteria, the Foundation aims to maintain a diverse funding portfolio and considers a variety of other factors such as commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, budget size, geographic area served, service population and mission when determining which applicants are selected for investment.

A site visit or meeting is not required for consideration; however, a member of our grant review team may reach out to your organization to request a phone call in the event she/he/they have additional questions about your application.

ODG grants breakdown

 

 


Funding rate

Due to the open and responsive nature of Open Door Grants. the program is very competitive. Demand far outpaces available resources. In the first two years of the program, 20% of applicants received a grant. You can learn more about our staff's reflections on the program's previous year of grant making by reading our blog post.

ODG funding rate


Renewal Funding 

Open Door Grants are provided for one year of support at a time. We will, however, consider a second-year application if an organization is awarded a grant. The limit for consecutive annual support is two years, after which an organization must wait 12 months following the completion of their second-year grant period before applying again for support. Approximately 25% of grantees who apply for renewal funding receive a second year of support. Please note that you may only apply for renewal funding if your organization is applying for the same project/work as your original funded application. There is no limit to the total number of open Door Grants an organization can receive. 

Second Year of Funding Application Guidelines 

Current grantees who have been supported for only one year may reapply for support 12 months after their initial application. To apply for a second year of funding, please complete the online renewal application form.

If you still have questions after reading this page and its links, email and a member of our staff can assist you.