How This Funder Prioritizes Local Food & Fuel Needs in the Winter

The Boston Foundation tends to stick to its main grantmaking priorities of education, wellness, neighborhoods, arts & culture, and the regional economy. But it always sets aside a bit of cash to take care of local emergency situations, and this winter has been no exception. Boston winters are notoriously harsh, and residents this year have already seen a couple of snow storms and plenty of below-freezing temperatures.

TBF’s Food and Fuel Fund has been part of the foundation’s strategy since 2008, and it recently kicked in $125,000 in grants for the first round of 2015-2016 funding.

“Historically, we and our nonprofit partners have supported strong efforts to feed, warm, and house those most in need in our city and region,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Foundation. “However, those needs become magnified in the winter season when the weather is harshest and living conditions most dire for those in need. So we are honored to house the Food and Fuel Fund and through it help our nonprofit partners provide crucial aid to families in this most crucial time of year.”

The bulk of recent grants went towards fuel, with fuel assistance grants going to the National Consumer Law Center, Action for Boston Community Development, Citizens Energy, Lynn Economic Opportunity, Inc., and the Salvation Army’s Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund. TBF attributes the increase of funding in this category to decreases in LIHEAP benefits and families needing more help paying for fuel services. TBF has been looking to support organizations that offer a combination of fuel-related services in the Greater Boston area, such as weatherization services, direct cost assistance, and advocacy.

A couple food-related grants were awarded recently, too, as part of this program, including grants to Women’s Lunch Place and the Boston Living Center. TBF prefers to support vulnerable populations with its meal and nutrition grants, such as women and the HIV/AIDS community.

A local housing grant was also recently awarded to Bridge Over Troubled Waters. This nonprofit provides a warming center in its shelter and focuses services on homeless youth. Again, organizations that provide for immediate basic needs and also advocate for long-term change tend to capture TBF’s support most frequently. In general, the elderly and disabled are also populations that TBF likes to support with these grants.

Food and Fuel Fund grants are awarded pretty exclusively in the winter, and TBF has awarded nearly $3 million in these types of grants since establishing the program. The grants typically range between $10,000 and $20,000, and they are one-time, unsolicited shows of support. Local organizations can’t apply for these grants, but you can get in touch with a program officer to learn more about available opportunities at