The Boston-based Ratshesky Foundation is a direct service, local funder that’s committed to three causes: getting families involved in early education, educational/vocational services that lead to employment, and after-school/year-round enrichment programs for teens and preteens.
To get a better sense of Ratshesky’s priorities and strategies, I connected with the foundation’s vice president, Roberta Morse Levy, who’s one of the seven family-member trustees who makes grant decisions. When asked about a piece of advice that the foundation would give to prospective grantees, Levy replied:
Our foundation has been effective in granting organizations that fall into our “employment and self-sufficiency” silo. We are seeking grantees who align with our “early education” and “active learning” silos. We also seek organizations that provide for “disadvantaged Jewish populations” that align with one or more of our other 3 areas of funding. An understanding of our entire description for reach of those categories is necessary.
Here are a few other tips for Boston organizations looking to catch this funder’s attention.
Tie Programs to Jewish Life in Boston
Although there are three funding areas within the Ratshesky Foundation, there are two common threads: Jewish life and Boston. Priority is often given to programs that support Jewish populations; however, Jewish-focused programs must also fit into one of the three funding areas and not be solely religious in nature. However, not all programs need to be related to Jewish causes to be considered for grants. Regardless, all applicants must serve Metro Boston within Route 495.
These are some past Ratshesky grants:
- Asian American Civic Association, Boston, MA - $7,500 to provide two-year post-job placement and retention services to graduates of the organization’s job training programs
- Combined Jewish Philanthropies f/b/o Jewish Vocational Services, Boston, MA - $25,000 to support employment services for immigrants and refugees including English classes, technical training for specific industry sectors, case management, and job placement services
- Raising a Reader, Boston, MA - $10,000 to help families in Lowell, Massachusetts build and sustain literacy routines in their homes
- Raw Artworks, Lynn, MA - $10,000 to support arts programs for high school youth
Focus on Lifelong Learning and Collaborations
Levy says that a common characteristic that Ratshesky grantees tend to share is their commitment to lifelong learning and willingness to collaborate with other organizations. One funding category addresses young children, one for preteens and teens, and another for adults. Ratshesky revamped its guidelines in 2011 to assist low-income individuals and families. Self-sufficiency is also highly valued in this funder’s grantmaking.
Connect with GMA
The Ratshesky trustees typically meet three times per year to discuss and decide on grants, but like many other Boston funders, they use GMA Foundations to handle the administration. Grantseekers are encouraged to contact the GMA staff (a foundation administrator, foundation assistant, and a program officer) with questions before submitting a proposal.
The foundation is interested in new grantees that align with its interest areas. “We require an understanding of a potential grantees’ organizational background, budget, background, project description (and how it aligns with our focus), and indicators of progress,” Levy shared.
The foundation’s grantmaking theory of change can be summed up like this:
One hundred years ago, our great Uncle Cap set up the Ratshesky Foundation with an understanding that times are ever changing. It is the current trustees hope that we can incorporate his original declaration into current need. “All people had a right to acquire the skills necessary to become full participants in our democratic society.”
To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile of the A.C. Ratshesky Foundation.