Trefler Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Trefler Foundation supports Greater Boston nonprofits working in healthy food accessibility and programs that get urban youth involved in farming and gardening. It’s also a strong supporter of teacher training in Boston Public Schools.

FUNDING AREAS: Community health and wellness, education policy and practice, teacher preparation, access to healthy foods, youth gardening and farming

IP TAKE: Innovative ideas for urban farming and teacher preparation may catch Trefler’s attention in Boston. Less is more, so keep communications short and to the point.

PROFILE: Established in 1996, the Trefler Foundation is a private family foundation that focuses a great deal of its support in the Boston area. Pam and Alan Trefler started the foundation through a “deep, long-term engagement at Dorchester High School, a district high school in the Boston Public School system that was facing grave academic and administrative challenges.” Dorchester Academy is what the post-restructuring entity is called, and a place where the couple focuses on food and nutrition support. Alan Trefler founded Pegasystems and built the company into a $600 million provider of strategic applications with 3,000+ employees in 30 global offices. There are three priority areas at the Trefler Foundation: health and wellness, teaching and learning, and healthcare access and innovation.

The funder’s health program focuses on urban communities and supports programs that improve school food, prepare healthy meals, and teach inner-city youth about gardening and farming. Trefler also funds research on colorectal cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital and access to screenings at MGH/Chelsea. Trefler’s education program is centered on local public education. The foundation has played a big role in restructuring Boston district high schools, most notably Dorchester High School. In the past, most education funding backed policy strategies to transform teacher education. Trefler has been part of a group of Massachusetts funders dedicated to teacher preparation. The foundation has taken an interest in youth violence prevention as well. Past Trefler support has gone to Year Up, Boston Partners in Education, Summer Search, East Boston High School, and Fenway High School.

Foundation grants vary in size by program area. View past grants by theme on the foundation website, and new partnerships to benefit neighborhood wellness are ongoing. Foundation giving is largely focused on the Boston area. Some targeted support is provided nationally and internationally, too.

The foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. However, it is entrenched in the Boston community and always keeping an eye out for new innovators. Direct general questions to the foundation at 617-454-1135 or via email at


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