Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation: Boston Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports health, education, and economic mobility causes in the Greater Boston area. It provides small and mid-sized capital grants that local groups can apply for.

FUNDING AREAS: Health, education, economic mobility

IP TAKE: Parks and green spaces are emerging as big causes for this Boston-focused funder, so there’s a great opportunity here for mid-sized local organizations that have capital needs.

PROFILE: The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation (RSSFF) is all about assisting economically disadvantaged families and individuals in Greater Boston. The founders lived their lives in Boston and were committed to supporting people in their home communities. They established a foundation in 1970 from the sales of the family businesses, Harcourt General and Neiman Marcus.

The foundation’s key funding areas are health, education and economic mobility. The health program supports biomedical research and expansion of access to care at safety net institutions. Low-income residents of Greater Boston are the grantmaking target, and Boston’s world-class institutions typically receive the biomedical support. Quality of diabetes care is important to this funder.

Urban education grants are awarded to groups who emphasize advancement for socio-economically disadvantaged youth. This is a supporter of non-traditional public schools working to close Massachusetts’ achievement gap. RSSFF often awards grants for teacher and administrator development and to replicate charter schools to expand their facilities.

The foundation awards economic mobility grants to groups that help low-income individuals learn the skills they need to move up and have more opportunities for careers and in life. Funding in this category is focused on English as a second language programs and support for people who were formerly homeless.

Overall, RSSFF awards about $15 million in grants each year. It awards mid-sized capital grants for projects with budgets between $250,000 and $3 million. This is for discrete and identifiable projects, like parks, community facilities and public art installations. It also awards small capital grants to groups as one-time expenses to boost nonprofits’ ability to achieve their mission. These grants commonly go towards purchase of vehicles, equipment and facility improvements, and are designed for agencies with operating budgets under $3 million.

Nonprofits in the Boston area can apply for mid-sized capital grants and small capital grants. However, all other grants are made by invitation only. The grant guidelines for these two programs can be found on the funder’s website. All applicants must serve people in the Greater Boston area.

This foundation is run by three generations of the Smith family, and the staff is based in Newton. Keep up with the foundation in its news section. General questions can be directed to (857) 404-0700 or


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