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The annual campaign for

Civic Leadership

Our civic leadership model is built on collaboration and partnership with others to use our shared knowledge to advocate for bold, innovative systems change. Powered by donors like you.

With crucial support from our Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership, we work with partners in the business and nonprofit communities, as well as numerous public officials, to have a real impact on issues that are critical to the economic competitiveness and civic health of Greater Boston. We consider this civic leadership—especially bringing together analysts, problem solvers and funders to understand and act on matters of local concern—to be core to our mission.

Each year, generous donors make this civic leadership work possible through their donations to the Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership. In 2022-2023, nearly 500 individuals, companies and organizations donated roughly $3 million to the Annual Campaign, supporting our research, convenings, advocacy and communications. 

Civic Leadership is a critical element of the new Boston Foundation’s mission to improve lives and strengthen communities.

We believe that civic leadership and civic engagement are the most powerful ways to advance economic justice and equity in Greater Boston. We are a hub of partnerships and networks that work with and answer to the communities we serve. We collect data, commission research, share knowledge, develop dynamic programs, and fuel new ideas. Our work informs public policy, catalyzes conversations, and advocates not only for change, but for repair of the historical harms of inequity. Ultimately, we aim to support, contribute and create well-being and opportunity within our communities.

Donations to the Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership provide the needed funds to take on this necessary work. Your partnership energizes and supports our commitment to close the gaps on this region’s greatest disparities.

Learn more about our work and the four pathways toward equity at the center of it at



News and Events Signup

Our in-person and remote events are free and open to the public. We invite you to sign up for news and event invitations and to check out our past events.


Lee Pelton, President and CEO

In June 2021, Dr. M. Lee Pelton began his tenure as President and CEO at the Boston Foundation, stewarding the Annual Campaign.

"Civic leadership is what brought me to the Boston Foundation. Our civic leadership model is built on collaboration and partnership with others to collect data, commission research, convene conversations and use our shared knowledge to advocate for deep systems change. At its best, it’s not just what we do, it's how we approach problems – with humility, determination, generosity, and shared purpose."

Civic Leadership Special Events

Side by side headshots: on the left a headshot of Jill Lapore, a white woman with light-colored hair and glasses, and on the right is a headshot of Lee Pelton, a black man with short hair
Vitas mori. Albus orexiss ducunt ad gabalium. Ubi est altus nomen? Liberi de castus bubo, pugna species! Persuadere diligenter ducunt ad bi-color barcas.

A Virtual Conversation About Building a Stronger and More Equitable Boston

On October 25, Boston Foundation President and CEO Lee Pelton sat down for a virtual conversation with American historian and journalist Jill Lepore as a special event honoring donors to TBF’s Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership. Using history as a way of discussing the “deep divide in our nation,” Pelton asked Lepore to place our current politics in the context of other times.

Read a transcript from this virtual event
Michelle Wu and Lee Pelton
Vitas mori. Albus orexiss ducunt ad gabalium. Ubi est altus nomen? Liberi de castus bubo, pugna species! Persuadere diligenter ducunt ad bi-color barcas.

A Conversation on Leadership with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

On April 27, the Boston Foundation was pleased to host an Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership special event: A Conversation on Leadership between President and CEO Lee Pelton and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. The two spoke for an hour about the Mayor's first month in office and the leadership lessons they each have taken in during the course of their time in public service and civic leadership

Click here to watch the conversation

The Boston Foundation: A Center for Civic Leadership


Reports published since 2001, including well over 100 "Understanding Boston" series reports


Public forums held since 2001


People have attended forums since the series inception

Civic Leadership and Equity

Our unique position as a civic leader - and your generous support - has allowed us to address both the immediate needs and the long-term issues the pandemic has triggered.


Boston Indicators

Boston Indicators, the research center of the Boston Foundation, works independently and with partners to explore the core issues facing Greater Boston and its people.


Lee Pelton at Podium Upcoming Events

With over 40 public events online each year, our events bring researchers, community leaders and advocates together to share ideas and insights on dozens of issues. 


Massachusetts State House dome fall 'City of Ideas' blog

We have the honor of partnering with grassroots and community leaders from across the spectrum to advocate for changes that create a region that works for everyone.

Facing Issues

Old map background Our Reparations Series

On challenging issues from reparations, to climate justice, to addiction and homelessness, our civic leadership highlights opportunities and offers room for debate. 

Civic Leadership in Action

Support for the Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership helps the Boston Foundation knit our grantmaking and research together with critical advocacy and policy work from our community and nonprofit partners, helping them drive real change in areas from the arts to education to housing and more. Below are just two examples of the work in action.

Early Education and Child Care

When the Bough Breaks

The Boston Foundation used its research and resources to advocate for needed funding to support the health and wellbeing of children. From our Health Starts at Home initiative, to our When the Bough Breaks research and advocacy for the Common Start legislation to improve child care access and affordability, to our monthly 'Early Childhood Coffee and Conversations', we are working in partnership with parents, child care workers and care providers to repair and rebuild this fragile, yet critical system.


Housing Report Card image

For two decades, the Greater Boston Housing Report Card has been a must-read for housing advocates and policymakers. The annual reports have helped advance advocacy for needed changes, such as Chapter 40R and Housing Choice to improve zoning opportunities for affordable, transit-oriented housing. Funding from the Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership has also made possible significant work against housing discrimination, and lifted up the connection between stable housing and other positive outcomes.

Contact Assistant Director of Leadership Giving Erin Coffey to learn more about the Campaign for Civic Leadership

Boston Foundation research, reports and forums

Recent reports and videos are listed below.  You can access all of the Foundation’s reports and watch archived videos of forums at News + Insights.

We invite you to join us for upcoming events and forums.

Cummings 100k for 100 logo

 The Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership is a recipient of a $30 Million Grant Program grant from the Cummings Foundation.