Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation 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 is a great opportunity here for mid-sized local organizations that have capital needs.

PROFILE: Established in 1970, the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation (RSSFF) is interested in 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 from the sales of the family businesses, Harcourt General and Neiman Marcus. Grantmaking interests 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.

Foundation grants often range from $250,000 to $1 million each. Overall, RSSFF awards about $15 million in grants each year. View past grants on the funder’s website. It awards mid-sized capital grants for projects with budgets between $250,000 and $3 million. This is for discrete and identifiable projects, such as 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. Grantmaking is focused on the Greater Boston area. See the grant guidelines for foundation programs on the funder’s website. Keep up with the foundation in its news section.

The foundation does not accept unsolicited grant applications and awards all grants by invitation only. However, it does accept unsolicited letters of inquiry. This foundation is run by three generations of the Smith family, and the staff is based in Newton. Direct general questions to the foundation at 857-404-0700 or


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