Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation: Grants for Boston

OVERVIEW: The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm of its namesake law firm, and is committed to supporting education in the inner-city communities in which the firm has a presence.

IP TAKE: This foundation acknowledges that its biggest grant amounts are earmarked for their V.I.P.s—calling them Relationship Grants, and more or less distributing them to the same players year-to-year. But it is also refreshingly flexible when it comes to its smaller Community Grants—up to $2,000 per classroom for a wide variety of learning and participatory projects. Through both programs, as the law firm's home base, Boston gets the most attention.

PROFILE: The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Brown Rudnick LLC, an international law firm focused on business law, with headquarters in Boston, with additional U.S. offices in Hartford, New York City; Orange County, CA, Providence, and Washington, D.C.

That list is important, because those are the only places the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation will grant funds. It's even more relevant for you Beantown outfits because Boston is first on that list—and also foremost.

The funds going to Boston are all in the realm of education, with K-12 education at the forefront (but also with clear support of early childhood education) across an impressively wide range of subject areas, needs and types of activities. This support of education flows through the foundation's committment to creating positive social change by supporting inner-city education. It does this through both its Relationship Grants and Community Grants programs.

Relationship Grants is an apt name for the foundation’s larger (in terms of amounts given) program. Through this program the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation not only gives funds, but also provides employee volunteer hours and pro bono legal services—a relationship that's deeper than a one-shot cash infusion. The term “relationship” can also refer to the fact that virtually all grantees under this umbrella are multi-year recipients. For its 2014/15 cohort, only two of the 11 grant recipients were first-time grantees; five of the recipients had received annual awards five or more times.

Relationship Grants are more often awarded to 501(c)(3) groups than directly to school districts or individual schools. Recent Boston grantees in this category include:

  • $17,500 to East Boston High School for its scientific literacy program
  • $15,000 to the Hull Livesaving Museum/College Bound Dorchester for its Maritime Apprentice Program, "which serves an older, high-risk population in Boston through work and education programs"
  • $13,500 to Thompson Island Outward Bound for its “Connections” education program for Boston public school students with in-school classroom activities revolving around field experiences on Thompson Island
  • $10,500 to the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston for a Holiday Art Contest and Teen Art Law program in Boston public schools, as well as a Corporate Art Lending Program with public school student art loaned to businesses.

Despite the entrenched relationships built into these Relationship Grants, the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation does have an open LOI process for them, with applications due in March.

But if your education project is based in a classroom, your needs are for a one-time specific program, and you can make use of a modest amount, the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation’s Community Grants are the way to go. The foundation’s tagline here is “Front Line Focus,” which shows where and how these smaller amounts ($2,000 maximum) should be directed. The foundation adds:

Although the amount of these grants may seem modest, we have found that the connections that they foster, the activities they encourage and the energy they create, have the potential to unleash countless contributions to improving inner-city education in the communities where we live and work.

Grants given through this program can either be directed by a school or classroom teacher, or otherwise by a 501(c)(3) that is partnering with a school to “recognize, encourage, and collaborate with the front-line workers within the educational system who often do not have a voice in funding decisions.” The projects also need to be “concrete.”

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation has shown that it’s very open as to the types of subjects and activities its grants will support—as well as how those funds will be used—so long as it’s a classroom-driven, one-time project (rather than ongoing programming).

Boston grantees reflect the diversity of what this foundation will support. Awardees include:

  • Jeremiah E. Burke High School to purchase science ESL books for two classes
  • Neighborhood House Charter School to produce poetry books
  • Operation P.E.A.C.E. for the renovation of an after-school classroom used by children in subsidized housing
  • Perkins Community Center to purchase toys for children in childcare while their parents participate in an adult learning program
  • The Harbor Pilot Middle School to purchase specialized keyboards to be used in an all inclusive music classroom, allowing for individualized instruction so that every student can learn to play an instrument
  • Lee Academy Pilot School to pay stipends to guest speakers on the topics "Being a Nurturing Father," "How to talk to your childen about difficult things," as well as to pay for childcare during these sessions.

    The Community Grants program is an online open application, with considerations made monthly.

    PEOPLE: