What’s Behind the Boston Foundation’s Vision Fund Grants?

With around 900 charitable funds and $900 million in assets, the Boston Foundation makes just shy of $100 million in grants each year (Read Boston Foundation: Boston Area Grants). Some of these are large and others small, but it’s all part of a strategic approach. One of the unique small grants programs at TBF is the Vision Fund, which emphasizes boosting the capacity and impact of local nonprofits.

The Vision Fund is not a new initiative, but it’s one that many grantseekers haven’t heard about. In fact, it’s been around since 1993 and has provided over $1.5 million to Greater Boston nonprofits since that time.

“The Vision Fund and other small grants programs are an often quiet but critically important part of our grantmaking from the Permanent Fund for Boston,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “As a Foundation, we pride ourselves in being ‘there at the beginning’ for well over a hundred of the region’s most valued nonprofits, and this program is one great opportunity to support tomorrow’s great nonprofit leaders and ventures.”

This program provides grants of up to $7,500 to nonprofits with total projects budges of $15,000 or less. The most recent application period just closed on July 15th, and we expect to see this quarterly round of grants top out with at least $60,000. Recent Vision Fund grantees include the following:

  • Write Boston, an organization that seeks to boost the capacity to teach and use writing to support student learning, for establishing its Teens in Print program web development protocols and procedures to streamline operations and build youth media skills. 
  • Casa Myrna Vasquez, an organization that delivers solutions to end domestic and dating violence in Boston through a comprehensive, bilingual serves, to support a strategic assessment and planning process.  
  • United Teen Equality Center, Inc. (UTEC), an organization that seeks to re-engage young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success, to support web implementation and financial practices consultation for its social enterprise expansion into Greater Boston.
  • The Record Company, an organization that provides affordable recording space for independent musicians and training and mentorship to Boston youth, to support their strategic planning.

At this time, TBF has 15 grantmaking initiatives, and the Vision Fund is most closely associated with the foundation’s objective of increasing philanthropic resources. This is part of a broader objective to support donors through donor-advised giving, an annual campaign to support foundation research and public policy work, and building the Permanent Fund for Boston.

Vision Fund grant requests are accepted on a rolling basis and grants are made on a quarterly basis. Eligible programs include capacity building efforts, pilot and demonstration projects, program design, evaluation, and research. This is the program to apply to for all your board assessment, development, merger, restructuring, and strategic planning needs.  You can find the online application forms on the foundation website, and contact Program Associate, Stephanie Guidry, at stephanie.guidry@tbf.org with questions.