A.C. Ratshesky Foundation: Boston Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports early education, employment, and year-around/after school enrichment for preteens and teens. Programs that support disadvantaged Jewish populations in Boston are of particular interest.

FUNDING AREAS: Family partnering in early education, employment and self-sufficiency, and active learning for preteens and teens

IP TAKE: Make sure to highlight how your program serves Boston’s Jewish community as part of its overall goal. Tie “lifelong learning” into your proposal, regardless of what program area you’re applying to.

PROFILE: The A.C. Ratshesky Foundation was founded in 1916 and adopted its current name in 1930. Abraham C. “Cap” Ratshesky was a Boston native and a son of Jewish immigrants. He and his brother founded the United States Trust Company, which provided Jewish immigrants with access to capital and banking services. He was a social activist and politician, having served in the Massachusetts Republican State Committee, the Republican National Convention in 1904, the Massachusetts State Legislature, and as a United States Minister to Czechoslovakia.

Ratshesky’s philanthropic endeavors included the Beth Israel Hospital, the Boston Chapter of the Red Cross, and disaster relief efforts. Through his giving, he wished to remove the barriers to economic and social justice for Jewish and other immigrant groups. Today, the foundation focuses grantmaking on early education, employment, and active learning for preteens and teens.

The Family Partnering in Early Education program supports causes that create learning environments at home to supplement school education. The focus here is on prevention, mentoring, language development, and reading and math readiness. The foundation’s goal is to close the achievement gap through early learning development.

The Employment and Self-Sufficiency program supports causes that help people find employment through education, vocational services, cultural orientation, English training, job placement, and on-the-job training. Ratshesky likes to see programs that target low-income and dislocated workers, use technology for monitoring, and ones that build formal employer relationships.

Active Learning grants are awarded to after-school and year-around enrichment programs for teens and preteens. The foundation chooses grantees that focus on real-world relevance, multiple interdisciplinary perspectives, and ill-defined problems.

Regardless of the focus area, the foundation tends to support organizations and programs that serve disadvantaged Jewish populations in the Boston area. Past grants can be viewed on the foundation website.

Proposal deadlines fall on October 1, February 1, and July 1 each year. And grants are restricted to groups that serve Metro Boston communities within Route 495. The grant guidelines page provides the following statement:

Grant requests for $10,000 toward a program budget of $150,000 or from organization with an annual budget of $1 million, for example, are typically ranked a higher priority than requests to support a $300,000 program from large organizations with relatively strong fundraising capacity and many sources of funding.

Most grants support programs that provide direct services. This is important to know, because some local funders have shied away from direct service funding lately. General operating support and multi-year grants are rare, but not unheard of. In recent years, the foundation has reported over $7.4 million in assets.

According to Roberta Morse Levy, VP of the Ratshesky Foundation, a characteristic that Ratshesky grantees tend to share is that “they all are part of a continuum that supports lifelong learning and they all collaborate closely with a network of allied organizations to help people succeed.”

After trustee meetings, the foundation board updates its website to explain its funding decisions and priorities to prospective grantees. Each one of the trustees is a descendent of the founder, so this giving is truly a family affair. The board typically meets three times per year to review grant applications and make decisions. About 20 to 30 grants are made per year, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each, and the application process is all explained online.

Interested grantseekers are encouraged to contact GMA with any questions before submitting a funding request. The GMA Foundation administrator is Prentice Zinn, who can be reached at 617-391-3091 or pzinn@gmafoundations.com. Keep in mind that for every 35 to 45 applications that this funder receives, only about 10 of them receive funding.

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