Open Door Grants debuts | City of Ideas

Posted 10/12/2016 by James Burnett

So often those words carry a connotation of "wrong" or "not normal."

But for the Boston Foundation, the Open Door Grants program is exactly as things should be, as they used to be, as they will be. It isn't replacing our core work. It is a potential juggernaut unto itself, in addition to our core work. Open Door Grants are made to nonprofits that are not directly aligned with the strategies, goals and approaches pursued in the five impact areas the Foundation has focused on since 2009 and will continue to focus on until at least 2020. New and existing nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston are encouraged to look to Open Door Grants to support their efforts to meet existing needs as well as test new ideas and innovations that address the most critical challenges facing our community.

The 24 recipients of our first round of Open Door Grants funding include:

  • Aspire Developmental Services, Inc., which received $30,000 to support "Aspire Early Support," a home visitation program for pregnant and postpartum women with social/environmental risk factors;
  • Health Care Without Walls, an organization that provides free healthcare to homeless women, which received $50,000 for the expansion of its Bridges to Elders program to homeless women not currently eligible for those services;
  • and Youth Harbors, which received $20,000 for general operating support to continue creating educational opportunities and pathways to self-sufficient adulthood for high school students facing homelessness and without consistent family support.

Health Care Without Walls says its grant will help the organization reach more women in need.

"I can't put it any simpler than that," said Linda Cundiff, HCWW's Chief Operating Officer. "We're a small agency trying to make a big difference in the lives of homeless women. We want to extend the nursing and community health workers case management services for elderly homeless women with chronic disease so that they can have measurable healthcare outcomes, and we can reduce costs to the health care system by cutting back on ER visits and hospitalizations. Our overall program takes care of about 10,000 women per year. We're trying to show that we can make a difference with more through this pilot project."

In case it isn't clear, our five impact areas are Education, Health & Wellness, Jobs & Economic Development, Neighborhoods & Housing, and Arts & Culture. If your community-based organization is doing good work, needs to build its capacity or has an idea for a program that doesn't fit into one of those areas but can make a difference, Open Door Grants may be right for you.

Responsive grantmaking isn't a new phenomenon, at least not at the Boston Foundation. It certainly bucks a national trend among large philanthropies in recent years, in which support has been steered into limited strategy areas. Again, we have such strategy areas too. But it has also been a core strategy of ours to ask community organizations how they need to be supported and to respond in kind, going back 101 years to our founding.

So consider the Open Door Grants program a homecoming, something akin to Back to the Future.

Want to know more? Visit the Open Door Grants Web page at, here. And for a complete list of recipients, please visit this page.


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