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Open Door Grants

Grants to Massachusetts Nonprofits for Education, Health,
and Economic Development in the Greater Boston Area

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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The Boston Foundation (TBF)

Deadline Date:



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Grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to Massachusetts new and existing nonprofits in the greater Boston area for programs in the areas of education, health and wellness, housing and neighborhoods, jobs and economic development, and arts and culture. Funding is also available for programs that cater to seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Funding is available for general operating support as well as project support, including capacity-building projects.

More details on the five impact areas are as follows:

Arts and Culture:

The Arts and Culture impact area works in concert with the City of Boston’s cultural plan, Boston Creates, to drive investment, innovation, collaboration and inclusiveness across all levels of Greater Boston’s arts ecosystem. The core components of this impact area include:
- Partnering up with mid- to large-size organizations, aiming to create programming that serves, uplifts and better positions Greater Boston’s artists and small arts organizations
- Investing in the infrastructure and systems needed to realize a vibrant, sustainable, rigorous and inclusive arts ecosystem
- Investing in the creation of a more “fertile ground” for increased high-quality, contemporary public art within the urban environment
- Investing in advocacy focused on increasing municipal funding for the arts in Boston.


The Education impact area works to ensure that all residents can access opportunity and that their education prepares them to remain in the region and succeed in their careers. This area works to strengthen the city’s and region’s education pipeline—from the youngest learners, through K-12 education, and then through college completion and into careers.

Health and Wellness:

The Health and Wellness impact area strives to lower rates of overweight and obesity in Boston and Massachusetts, as well as to reduce health care costs through a greater focus on prevention. The core components of this impact area include:
- School-Based Youth Physical Activity: Ensure daily, required, quality physical activity for all students in Greater Boston by funding school-based physical activity programs, expanding partnerships with the Boston Public Schools, and commissioning research on program effectiveness and links to academic performance.
- Early Childhood Obesity Prevention: Improve prenatal and neonatal care standard practices in order to reduce obesity during early childhood. Invest in research-based interventions that bring together health care practitioners, federal grant programs and community health programs in a collective effort to improve health and behavioral outcomes for both mothers and their children.
- Social Determinants of Health: Incorporate health into decision making across sectors and policy areas. Support systemic initiatives that take health beyond the confines of hospitals to improve medical outcomes, reduce health disparities and lower health care costs through cross-sector approaches that address the social determinants of health.

Neighborhoods and Housing:

The Neighborhoods and Housing impact area works to make Boston and its surrounding communities affordable, accessible and responsive to community vision and needs. It does this by pursuing two distinct, but complementary strands of work:
- The Housing strategy works to fundamentally reform the systems that impede housing production and destabilize low-income families.
- The Neighborhoods strategy supports communities adjacent to Boston’s Fairmount Indigo Commuter Rail Line to build their collective capacity to advocate for equitable development policies and become a political force recognized by state and local policymakers.

Jobs and Economic Development:

The Jobs and Economic Development impact area works to provide equitable access to economic opportunities, with a specific focus on the populations that have customarily been overlooked. Goals are to:
- Expand Workforce Development initiatives by increasing the number of people receiving training for low-, middle- and high-skilled jobs and careers in sectors like hospitality, culinary arts and IT.
- Foster an environment of support for entrepreneurs, with a specific focus on women and under-represented minorities.
- Increase the participation rate of women and under-represented minorities in the Innovation economy.

Grassroots Strategy:

The Grassroots Strategy impact area seeks to recognize, include and support the leaders and communities that have historically been excluded. The core components of this impact area include:
- Activating grassroots leaders by sponsoring professional development opportunities for grassroots leaders, connecting leaders to resources and other support systems, and hosting the Boston Neighborhood Fellows.
- Seeding grassroots ideas
- Deepening grassroots connections by partnering with leaders to co-create safe and welcoming spaces and opportunities for community members, grassroots nonprofit leaders and Foundation staff to meet together, exchange stories and discuss lessons learned from community action to ensure that voices of communities historically excluded are present in all of the Foundation's work.

Nonprofit Effectiveness:

The Nonprofit Effectiveness impact area supports and promotes effective, inclusive, and sustainable nonprofits in Greater Boston. The core components of this impact area include:
- Supporting, developing, and recognizing the nonprofit sector’s leaders and to build the sector’s leadership pipeline.
- Helping bolster the operational effectiveness of individual nonprofits by providing support to strengthen core organizational capacities including planning, governance, finance and evaluation; and by supporting the sector’s capacity for collective action.
- Promoting and facilitating strategic, data-driven philanthropy by supporting nonprofits to tell their stories and receive donations via the Giving Common.

Increasing Philanthropic Resources:

The Increasing Philanthropic Resources impact area is dedicated to building more avenues to support donors and nonprofits across the city and the region.

Note: If an organization does work on behalf of seniors or individuals with physical disabilities, the organization is especially encouraged to apply for an Open Door Grant as the Foundation has funds specifically designated for these purposes.

The Foundation encourages collaboration. Joint programs with fellow nonprofit organizations are also eligible. One organization should submit the application as the lead organization on behalf of the collaborative partners.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182035

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grant funding ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.

Term of Contract:

Grants will be made for one year at a time and for up to two years in a row, with a renewal application required for those seeking a second year of funding.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

An eligible applicant would be an existing or new organization that:

- Is not in direct conflict with the strategies, goals and approaches pursued by the Foundation’s five impact areas
- Has a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit designation from the IRS or operates under the fiscal sponsorship of a tax-exempt nonprofit. (The organization is responsible for having that relationship in place before submitting an application.)
- Primarily serves the people of the cities and towns in the Foundation’s catchment area, with the exception of regional, statewide or national public policy efforts that may benefit a substantial portion of the people in the Foundation’s catchment area
- Aligns with the Foundation’s Values Statement, which seeks to broaden participation; foster collaboration; and heal racial, ethnic and community divisions
- Does not discriminate in the hiring of staff or the provision of services on the basis of race, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability
- Has not submitted an application within the past 12 months

The Foundation strives to maintain a diverse Open Door Grants portfolio that is responsive to the community’s stated needs. In addition to the criteria listed above, the Foundation also considers an applicant’s geography served, budget size, service population and mission, among other factors, when determining which applicants the Foundation ultimately selects for investment.

The Boston Foundation does not make grants for capital construction costs, endowments, medical or academic research, scholarships, sectarian or religious purposes, or to support candidates for political office. Private non-operating foundations, 501(c)(4) organizations, and Section 501(a)(3) Type III Non-functionally Integrated organizations are not eligible to apply. In addition, grants are not made to individual persons or individual schools. Schools must apply through their school districts and districts may submit one application every 12 months.

The Arts and Culture impact area does not currently support the following areas:

- Arts education and youth arts, except through the Foundation's support of Edvestor’s BPS Arts Expansion initiative.
- Capital grants or requests
- Elder arts
- Fashion arts
- Film projects, film making or film festivals
- Literature/literary arts

Pre-Application Information:

- Application Deadline: December 1; Applicants notified: March 2018
- Application Deadline: March 1; Applicants notified: July 2018
- Application Deadline: June 1; Applicants notified: October 2018
- Application Deadline: September 1; Applicants notified: December 2018

Organizations that received an Open Door Grant (ODG) and wish to apply for a second year of support for the same program or work, must submit a request within 18 months of the date their last application was funded.

To request a profile for the first time, please submit a Giving Common profile request form.

Applicants should email Giving Common staff to confirm that select fields in their existing profile are up to date.

A pre-conversation is not necessary to apply for an Open Door Grant; however, if an applicant has questions please email the Foundation and a member of the grants management staff will be happy to assist.

While the Boston Foundation website performs best in Firefox or Chrome, please use Internet Explorer for the forms.


The Foundation's five focus areas:

Mission statement:

Grant information sessions:

Considerations for funding:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Online application (for renewing grant):

Giving Common profile request form (new applicants):

Corey L. Davis, Director, Grants Management

The Boston Foundation
75 Arlington Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02116

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts: Greater Boston