Small grants difference | City of Ideas

Posted 07/07/2014 by Paul S. Grogan

The Boston Foundation operates a number of smaller grant programs – such as the Action Fund, which is set aside for small grants to address immediate needs and opportunities, and the Vision Fund, which provides grants each quarter of up to $7,500 for small, often early-stage nonprofits seeking to build their capacity, or take on a specific challenge. Just this week, we announced our June round of Vision Fund grantees – and they truly reflect the nature of community.

The grantees include a community organic farm in Metrowest that wants to improve the registration system for youth and adult education programs. There’s a teen writing program looking to expand their web development programs to build youth media skills. There’s a Boston program that leverages their affordable recording studio to provide mentorship programs and training, but needs some resources for a strategic planning process. Other Vision Fund grantees this quarter help those with brain injuries, children with special needs, college students, victims of abuse and dating violence and more.

Together, these ten grants total a little over $60,000 – an amount that wouldn’t catch the eye of a local newspaper. But these small grants at the right time make a huge difference. Take Smarter in the City, the tech incubator being created by entrepreneur Gilad Rosenzweig in the Dudley Square neighborhood of Roxbury. Early this year, an Action Fund grant gave Rosenzweig support to get his initial concept developed – and allowed him to leverage the funding and some opportune press coverage to access more needed capital. This month, less than a year after its creation, Smarter in the City welcomed its first cohort of startups to the new accelerator, bringing entrepreneurship, innovation and perhaps jobs to neighborhoods that sorely need to reap the rewards of the Innovation Economy.

As the Foundation moves into its Centennial Year in 2015, you’ll hear more and more about some of the remarkable organizations for whom we were “There at the Beginning”, from WGBH to the New England Aquarium to Year Up to Action for Boston Community Development to the Greater Boston Food Bank and so many others. At some point, each of these were nothing more than ideas or plans. They didn’t need millions of dollars – they needed believers and enough funding to move ahead.

And that’s a powerful part of the Permanent Fund for Boston. It makes it possible for organizations to gain initial funding to take on the challenges of Boston today, even as we seek to find those organizations yet to come who will take on the challenges of tomorrow.

Applications for the Summer round of Vision Fund grants are due by July 15. The Action Fund does not formally solicit applications.

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