The Tufts Health Plan Foundation: Aging Gracefully in New England

It’s reassuring to find consistency in the world of philanthropy, isn’t it? As much as we love to crow about some hot new funder that just stepped on the scene, the truth is that most grants in this country are given by foundations that aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel—or cure cancer, for that matter. Most foundations are just looking for ways to make a difference. Many of them are small and modest. But modesty can sometimes be a huge asset when you’re a foundation tackling a persistent problem with lots of ins and outs. You want to be there for the long haul, so you start small, and you spread your money widely.

This is what the Tufts Health Plan Foundation appears to be doing. Based in Watertown, MA, the foundation was established in 2008 with the intent of using the Tufts Health Plan’s assets to improve health issues in the communities in which they operate. It’s a young foundation, to be sure, but since the beginning, it’s had a clear and humble focus: to improve the process of aging for adults throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

It has two rounds of grants per year. One is announced in August, the other is announced in December, and within the organization, it gives grant monies through four different subcategories, all related to healthy aging: Health & Wellness, Purposeful Engagement, Empowerment, and Capacity Building. Health & Wellness, as the name suggests, is all about improving access to health care and quality providers. Purposeful Engagement seeks to provide senior citizens with accessible opportunities to volunteer through Experience Corps. Empowerment focuses mainly on offering transportation alternatives for older adults. The Capacity Building program is invitation-only, designed to assist select grantees in taking their mission above and beyond when the need, and the resources, are available.

The THPF’s latest round of grants, their first for FY2014, was announced last week, and they’re doing well. 2014’s first round of giving is sending $1.6 million big to some 43 nonprofit organizations scattered around Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Read our analysis to learn more.