Highland Street Foundation: Boston Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder mostly supports the following causes in Boston, but also elsewhere in Massachusetts and occasionally in California: education, housing, mentorship, healthcare, environment, and the arts.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, housing, mentorship, healthcare, environment, the arts

IP TAKE: Highland has focused heavily on access to arts and culture and capacity building for nonprofits. Affordable housing is also a huge issue for this funder.

PROFILE: The Highland Street Foundation (HSF) is based in Newton, Mass., just west of Boston, and is committed to supporting children and families in need in both Massachusetts and California. David J. McGrath Jr., the founder and owner of TAD Resources International, Inc., established this foundation in 1989. After he passed away in 1995 and TAD was sold in 1997, the foundation received a significant endowment.

Areas of funding are education, youth programming and mentoring, housing and homelessness prevention, environment, healthcare, and the arts.

This funder also sponsors and supports several community events, such as Free Fun Fridays, Out in the Park, TADpole 10, and Winter Camp. In a summer 2016 interview with IP, Executive Director Blake Jordan said: “Since 2009, more than 800,000 people have participated in Free Fun Fridays, with an estimated 70% first time visitors. Now in its eighth year with 80 cultural partners, we expect to see 200,000 visitors through the program this summer.”

Much of the foundation’s Massachusetts giving is centered on Boston, but it gives elsewhere in the state, too. Limited funding goes to California, but no grants are made internationally. In Boston, the foundation is particularly concerned about the high cost of living and the lack of affordable housing for people living below the poverty line. Jordan shared the following about HSF’s commitment to this issue in Boston:

Highland Street looks to invest in organizations that develop creative solutions to address this complex problem. For example, in 2003 a group of foundations, including Highland Street, came together to form the Home Funders collaborative. Home Funders pools private dollars to make low-interest loans and grants to developers in order to increase the supply of affordable housing.  To date, 2,000 units of housing for extremely low-income families have been created.  Highland Street will continue to work with the private and public sector to help address this important issue.

Unfortunately for grantseekers in Boston and elsewhere, HSF does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. It also doesn’t have any pre-established funding limits or deadlines. However, it is open to new ideas and welcomes brief letters of inquiry to introduce your organization and mission and to confirm eligibility. This is done through an online eligibility quiz, and you should hear back from the foundation within about 12 weeks. You can see a list of previous grantees on the awarded grants page.

General questions can be directed to the staff at (617) 969-8900 or Executive Director Blake Jordan directly at bjordan@highlandstreet.org. The foundation board is made up of David McGrath’s wife, JoAnn, and their five children. You can keep up with what this funder is doing locally by subscribing to its newsletter; email infor@highlandstreet.org with your information to get on the list.


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