This Funder Links Wellness and Inner-city Education

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Brown Rudnick LLC, an international law firm focused on business law, headquartered in Boston, with additional U.S. offices in Hartford, New York City, Orange County, CA, Providence, and Washington, D.C.

That list is relevant, because those are the only places the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation will grant funds. And the only types of grants it makes are in the realm of education.

Why, then, are you reading this? It's because the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation has a very broad view of the educational content that should be provided to students, based on its committment to creating positive social change by supporting inner-city education. And the foundation's giving history shows that this includes ample support for programs that teach and promote health and wellness.

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation primarily does this through its Community Grants program, which is geared toward classroom projects and one-time programs. These grants are given in modest amounts (up to $2,000). The foundation’s tagline here is “Front Line Focus,” which neatly encapsulates where and how these smaller amounts should be directed. The foundation adds:

Although the amount of these grants may seem modest, we have found that the connections that they foster, the activities they encourage and the energy they create, have the potential to unleash countless contributions to improving inner-city education in the communities where we live and work.

Grants given through this program can either be directed by a school or classroom teacher, or otherwise by a 501(c)(3) that is partnering with a school to “recognize, encourage and collaborate with the front-line workers within the educational system who often do not have a voice in funding decisions.” The projects also need to be “concrete,” and its inner-city education focus narrows down further—limited to Boston, Hartford, New York City, Providence, and Washington, D.C. (taking Orange County, CA, out of the mix).

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation has shown that it’s very open as to the types of subjects and activities its grants will support—as well as how those funds will be used—so long as it’s a classroom-driven, one-time project (rather than ongoing programming).

Health and wellness projects are prevalant here, including these grantees:

  • Lee Academy Pilot School (Boston, MA) to pay stipends to guest speakers on the topics "Being a Nurturing Father," "How to talk to your childen about difficult things," as well as to pay for childcare during these sessions
  • P.S. 221 (Brooklyn, NY) to purchase incentive materials for its walk/run program, "which empowers students and the community to be healthy"
  • Equistrides Therapeutic Riding Center (Hartford, CT) for therapeutic horseback riding lessons for special needs students in the Hartford Public Schools
  • Love Heals (New York, NY) to translate its booklet "Talking With Your Daughters About Sex and HIV Prevention" into Spanish
  • Charles Sumner School (Boston, MA) for its "Project Praise" anti-bullying program.

The Community Grants program is an online open application, with considerations made monthly.

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation also operates a Relationship Grants program, the foundation’s larger (in terms of amounts given) program. Through this program the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation is not only giving funds, but also providing employee volunteer hours and pro bono legal services—a relationship deeper than a one-shot cash infusion. The term “relationship” can also refer to the fact that virtually all of the grantees under this umbrella are multi-year recipients. For its 2014/15 cohort, only two of the 11 grant recipients were first-time grantees; five of the recipients had received annual awards five or more times.

Relationship Grants are more often awarded to 501(c)(3)s than directly to school districts or individual schools. No recent health program was directly awarded, but $20,000 that went to Ready To Learn Providence/The Providence Plan included support of "head start programs and family day care centers throughout the city to ensure that young children arrive at school healthy and ready to learn"—as well as the training and support of AmeriCorps members to see that to fruition.

Despite the longtime connections built into these Relationship Grants, the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation does have an open LOI process for them, with applications due in March.


Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation: Grants for Early Childhood Education