A Quick Look at the Filene Foundation’s Local Giving

The Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation places a high priority on nonprofits in Boston, so this is a great local funder to get familiar with. Grantmaking is a family affair at this foundation, where five generations have worked to preserve the founders’ legacy.

Something else that’s great about this funder for local groups is that it accepts unsolicited grant applications from nonprofits in Massachusetts. Although it does contribute to organizations outside the state on an occasional basis, those organizations must receive a direct invitation to apply.

Let’s take a quick look at Filene’s priorities and recent giving, especially as it relates to the Boston area.

A Big Priority on Community & Civic Engagement

The founders, Lincoln and Therese, were passionate about community and civic engagement during their lives, and this theme continues on in their foundation’s grantmaking today. The foundation recently made local news for its support of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, which established a student video contest to mobilize the youth vote for high school students.

The Filene foundation has also awarded recent grants to the Bill of Rights Institute for Constitutional seminars and to Discovering Justice for a children’s program. The board and committee look for programs that train teachers and student leaders to educate, engage and encourage citizens to get involved.

Media for the Underserved

Filene combines public education and broadcasting in one program focus area, but a common theme, here, is education of underserved populations through media. The board and committee look for programs that provide equal access and provide media to help the disabled and underprivileged. One recent media grant went to Press Pass TV to fund a media leadership institute.

Early Childhood Education & Public Schools

Education grants are often focused on early childhood education and public school systems. Recent grants went to the Boston Children’s Museum for school readiness and the Northeastern University Marine Science Center for its From School to Sea program, which introduces middle school students to oceanography.

A Wide Variety of Human Services Support

The foundation’s human development and self-sufficiency program area is the broadest one of all. It includes everything from domestic violence to job training programs and homelessness. There’s also a big emphasis here on serving youth causes. Recent grants were awarded to Housing Families, Inc. for its eviction and stabilization programs, and also to Straight Ahead Ministries for its youth reentry program in Worcester.

Arts grants are awarded as well, especially in the field of music, but most of those grants go to continuing programs at a handful of organizations with limited opportunities for new grantees to get involved.

The next application deadline is September 1, and the board typically meets in November to review applications and allocate funds. Just make sure that your request is for program support because Filene does not support general operating costs or capital requests.

To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile, Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation: Boston Grants. Questions about applying for a grant should be directed to Alene Willis at 617-439-2498 or via email at awallis@nutter.com.