A Recommitment to Youth: How One Big Boston Funder is Kicking Off 2018

Photo: a katz/shutterstock

Photo: a katz/shutterstock

In 2017, workforce development was a big theme among Boston-based funders. The Boston Foundation has been leading the way here, as we've reported, with collaborative funding and public/private partnerships that connect employers with skilled workers.

Of course, though, like most major community foundations, TBF has its fingers in many pots. And in the most recent round of TBF giving, it was youth grants that really stood out.

This month, $1.7 million in new grants will be going out 25 nonprofits, including half a dozen grants that are for multi-year support—something that organizations always like to see. 

One of the largest grants, $250,000, is going towards two-year general operating support for Boston After School and Beyond, which provides after-school and summer programs for thousands of Boston students. Another large youth-focused grant of $200,000 is going to Playworks. This is a two-year grant to help the group expand and reach its goal of helping one in 10 elementary school students in the U.S. by 2020.

Boston Foundation president and CEO Paul S. Grogan said:

With this round of grants, the Boston Foundation reaffirms its commitment to the power of youth development programs both in and after school, with grants to two organizations for which we were there at the beginning, Playworks and Boston After School and Beyond. In addition, we continue our focus on organizations creating jobs and bringing entrepreneurship opportunities to underserved Boston neighborhoods.

Something else that stands out about TBF’s latest round of giving is its continued commitment to Open Door grants. We’ve highlighted this interesting program in the past because of the funder’s willingness to look outside its normal focus areas and give to groups that wouldn’t normally be on TBF’s radar.

In addition to the 25 new grants noted above, the TBF board approved $605,000 in single-year Open Door grants to 22 additional nonprofits in the Boston area. The Open Door grants ranged between $15,000 and $50,000 and have been going to both well-established and smaller, lesser-known groups. This is perhaps the best chance for new and emerging nonprofits to get involved with a big-name funder in the city and the foundation will be opening even more opportunities within the program in the first part of the new year.

The list of Open Door grant recipients includes the Ellis Memorial and Eldredge House, Artists for Humanity, and Health Care Without Walls. Winters are notoriously brutal in Boston, so TBF stuck with its typical habit of giving to nonprofits that work in the areas of food and fuel security for the remaining winter months.

Looking ahead, there are some new TBF funding opportunities coming up with its Equality Fund, which meets needs in the LGBTQ community, and the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation, which is all about mental health. As we said, lots going on at TBF.

To get a better sense of where the TBF board and staff are right now in terms of funding local groups, be sure to check out the 2017 Annual Report.