Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation: Boston Grants

OVERVIEW: Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation is committed to the Greater Boston area and primarily funds fellowships and scholarships for medical research and public policy. The foundation also funds art prizes for emerging and promising contemporary artists and music composers. 

FUNDING AREAS: Public policy, neurologic and mental illness, medical research, art

IP TAKE: The Rappaport Foundation doesn’t publicize an open request for proposals or accept unsolicited grant requests from nonprofits. However, it is committed pretty exclusively to the Boston metropolitan area, and it’s all about strengthening local leadership. 

PROFILE: The Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation was established by Jerome “Jerry” Rappaport in 1997. Although Jerry was a native New Yorker, he spent his adult life in Boston and remained committed to the goal of shaping a better future for the people of Boston. This political activist, real-estate developer, and philanthropist served in the John Hynes Mayoral administration and created the New Boston Committee in 1950. He worked in policy-level public service and as an attorney before creating the New Boston Fund in 1993, which owns, develops, and operates over 15 million square feet of office, research and development, warehouse, and residential real estate.

Although public policy, medical research, and art seem to be completely unrelated grantmaking program areas on the surface, the foundation insists they are not. These are the areas that the board of directors feel have the greatest need for leadership strengthening in Greater Boston right now. The Rappaport Foundation’s strongest partnerships are with Harvard University, Suffolk Law School, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Cure Alzheimer's Fund, and the DeCordova Sculpture Park & Art Museum.

In the policy realm, the Rappaport Foundation supports non-partisan research related to public issues like housing, transportation, education, crime prevention. It also supports initiatives that connect political leaders to industry experts and in innovators in academia. Rappaport offers a Public Policy Fellowship and Policy and Law Fellowship Program for gradjuate level students where fellows spend 10 weeks working in state and local government offices in the Greater Boston area. 

Since there is still much mystery that surrounds the cause of mental illness, the Rappaport Foundation commits a significant portion of its assets to research for neurologic and mental health diseases. Rappaport funds a fellowship at McLean Hospital, a research scholarship at Massachusetts General Hospital, a scholars fund at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and contributes to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

The Rappaport Foundation supports the arts because of the way they influence life in Boston, much like policy and research do. With a focus on contemporary art, the foundation seeks inspiration and appreciation for artists in the region today. It funds the Rappaport Prize an annual art award presented by the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Rappaport has awarded a $25,000 prize to a contemporary American artist each year since 2000, making it one of the largest and longest-running art prizes in the country. In a past year, the foundation awarded the Rappaport Prize for Music Composition, which was a $100,000 grant to promote and recognize America's emerging and promising composers.

Three Rappaport family members serve on foundation’s board of directors and Jerry’s wife, Phyllis Rappaport, chairs the board. Stephen P. Johnson began serving as the foundation’s Executive Director after 13 years with the Boston philanthropy consulting firm, The Philanthropic Initiative. In a recent year, the foundation reported over $22 million in assets and $719,848 in total giving. For comparison, the previous year saw over $18.5 million in assets and $446,600 in total giving.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the Rappaport Foundation does not typically accept unsolicited grant requests from nonprofits. But in addition to the areas mentioned above, local grants have recently gone to Samaritans, the Cambridge Health Alliance, Winsor School, and the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. To keep up with what the Rappaport Foundation is doing, check out the foundation’s news section or reach out to Executive Director Stephen Johnson at 617-878-7773 or via email at sjohnson@rappaportfoundation.org.

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