Published On: October 20th, 2020

Photo by Visiting Nurse Communities, a fall 2020 grant recipient.

October 20, 2020—Cambridge, MA

The Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) is distributing a total of $457,000 to local nonprofits this fall, a month ahead of its regular grantmaking schedule to help cash-strapped organizations meet their missions at a time of elevated need.

Of this amount, 59 local nonprofits were awarded a total of $367,000 in grants this week from the Foundation’s Community Fund to support organizations addressing hunger and homelessness, and other housing challenges; youth and early childhood education and services; work force training; and services for elders. Grants are also going to arts nonprofits hit hard by the pandemic. Please scroll down for a list of all fall grants.

“Despite their own struggles to meet heightened levels of need in the community and great uncertainty about their financial stability, many nonprofits have nimbly and creatively pivoted to carry out their missions. In this pandemic, what our nonprofit partners are doing each day to meet community needs and creatively problem-solve is nothing short of heroic,” said Cambridge Community Foundation President Geeta Pradhan.

“The power of our community is reflected in the innovation and resilience of the nonprofit sector and the ongoing commitment of donors and partners to this work,” she added.

Given the ongoing pressures of the pandemic on the nonprofit sector, the Foundation has made this fall’s grants, like last spring’s, flexible. Nonprofits can use the funds at their discretion, including for general operating expenses.

In addition to the Community Fund grants, an additional $90,000 is committed to two ongoing, multi-year investments. To further strengthen the nonprofit ecosystem, the Foundation infused $40,000 into the Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition, an organization it helped form in 2015 to advance equity and justice in the community by strengthening the Cambridge nonprofit sector, building collective voice and promoting collaboration. The other $50,000 was allocated to Cambridge Housing Authority’s results-driven Work Force program offering school to career support for youth in public housing.

Insights from the field

In this fall’s Community Fund grant applications, nonprofits revealed creative responses to delivering services during the pandemic, and the pressing needs and challenges they face. Nearly 70 percent of these organizations shifted to virtual programming and a quarter of them pivoted to deliver new services (in many cases, on top of their existing services). Nearly half (43%) are collaborating with other organizations and/or shared resources. Meanwhile, 17% laid off staff or reduced staff hours/pay and 10% placed their programming on pause or cancelled programs.

“The COVID-19 outbreak changed the way in which we do our important work, but it has not stopped us from doing it,” said one grant applicant.

The applicants’ top five most-reported needs during the pandemic (after flexible funding) were: programming funds (72%); staff salaries or stipends for students, volunteers, or performers (52%); technology help, website, or laptops (38%); expertise/pro-bono services (32%); safety equipment, masks, or cleaning supplies (21%).

About CCF’s biannual grantmaking process

The Foundation received 59 proposals for Community Fund grants in the fall cycle and all 59 were funded at some level, with decisions informed by a diverse committee of grant reviewers comprised of community residents and civic leaders and led by Program Committee Co-Chairs Lori Lander and Rev. Lorraine Thornhill.

The Cambridge Community Foundation distributes two cycles of grants from its Community Fund each year, supporting nonprofit organizations involved in human services, workforce training, housing, hunger, homelessness, elder services, youth services and education, and the arts. It also invests in new and multi-year initiatives that align with the three pillars of the Foundation’s mission: shared prosperity, social equity, and cultural richness. Through its annual Imagined in Cambridge Social Innovation Award, CCF supports the next generation of emerging social innovators. Finally, thanks to its generous donors, the Foundation continues to raise funds and award grants through its Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund and included a grant to CASPAR to support our unhoused neighbors in the fall allocations.

Fall 2020 Grants


CASPAR: $15,000 (via the Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund)

Homeless Shelter (wet) with addiction recovery services.

Food for Free: $15,000

Rescues food and distributes to underserved in the community.

Homeowner’s Rehab: $11,000

Improve the quality of housing for low- and moderate-income residents and homeowners.

HomeStart, Inc.: $10,000

Provides services to at-risk households experiencing homelessness and housing crisis by preventing evictions

Mass Farmers Markets: $2,500

Run farmers markets for community and food-insecure residents and partners with farmers.

Solutions at Work: $6,000

Provides resources to low-income and homeless families.

Y2Y Network: $7,500

Youth-led youth homeless shelter network.


Cambridge Community Center (CCC): $12,500

A Settlement House, provides services, resources to under-resourced, under-represented youth, families, & seniors.

Community Conversations: Sister to Sister$7,500

Grassroots, women-run program supporting the health and wellbeing of Black women.

Community Dispute Settlement Center: $10,000

Mediation and training center providing an alternative, affordable forum for resolving conflict in the community.

Fenway Community Health Center: Youth on Fire: $5,500

Resource center for homeless youth.

Riverside Community Care, Inc.: $7,500

Provides behavioral healthcare and human services for children ages 0-19 and their families.

The Nature Connection: $2,500

Provides opportunities for those with limited or no access to the outdoors to the therapeutic use of nature.


Cambridge Neighbors, Inc.$2,000

Provides services to older adults so they can remain connected to the community and age at home.

Paine Senior Services$5,000

Case management and services for seniors regardless of their ability to pay.

Visiting Nurse Communities: $8,000

Provides assisted and supportive housing and services to those seniors most in need with the least resources.


Breaktime: $1,000

Operates a supported transitional employment program for young adults experiencing homelessness.

Center for Women & Enterprise: $5,000

An economic empowerment organization supporting women to launch and successfully sustain businesses.

Cambridge FIG, Inc.: $2,500

Supports creative ideas and economic opportunities for community members, focuses on workforce development and food security.

Just-A-Start Corporation: $15,000

Provides and preserves affordable housing, offers education and workforce training for youth and adults.

The Loop Lab: $10,000

Provides media arts job training and job placement for women and people of color in audio/video careers.

Self Esteem Boston Educational Institute: $2,500

Delivers support services for women in substance abuse recovery and domestic violence programs.

Startup Mentors: $6,000

Supports women of color entrepreneurs with long-term mentorship, programming, peer support and access to potential lenders/investors.


Agassiz Baldwin Community: $3,000

An intergenerational community center with programming for children and elders.

Big Sister Association of Greater Boston: $3,000

Matches girls 7-15 with committed adult mentors supporting the relationship until the girl turns 20.

Breakthrough Greater Boston: $12,500

Prepares low-income students for success in college and trains college students to be teachers.

Cambridge Camping Association: $20,000

Provides out-of-school programs that promote social-emotional and cognitive growth for vulnerable children.

Cambridge College: $5,000

Provides higher education for a diverse population for whom opportunities may have been limited or denied.

Cambridge School Volunteers: $7,500

Connects students with caring adult tutors, mentors, and reading buddies.

CitySprouts: $5,000

Tuition-free after-school and summer programs guide students through projects that engage them in science and give them practice being leaders.

Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do, Inc. (LEAD): $2,500

Provides training and curriculum in mental health education to educators.

Little Black Library: $2,500

Provides a rotating collection of important books to communities (i.e. those that catalyze conversations on race and identity)

Longy School of Music of Bard College: $6,000

Prepares musicians and offers educational and social impact programs that provide music access to vulnerable populations.

Navigation Games: $1,500

Promotes health through outdoor exercise and delivers orienteering education for children.

Playworks Education Energized: $5,000

Partners with high-need elementary schools to ensure recess is an opportunity for students to learn the skills needed to thrive in and out of school.

The Possible Project: $5,000

Provides a learning environment integrating entrepreneurship, work experience, college/career advising, and STEAM skills for under-served young people.

Tunefoolery Music, Inc.: $2,000

Musicians in mental health recovery perform for those who lack access to live concerts.

Tutoring Plus of Cambridge: $15,000

Supports youth in their academic, personal, and social growth to advance educational equity.


Innovators for Purpose (iFp): $8,000

Holistic project-based learning to empower diverse under-served young people to succeed in STEAM-related pursuits.

Prospect Hill Academy Charter School: $2,000

A charter public school offering quality educational opportunities to marginalized students.

Science Club for Girls: $8,000

High-quality out-of-school STEM program for girls from under-represented communities.


De Novo Center for Justice and Healing: $10,000

Free civil legal assistance and affordable psychological counseling for low-income people.

Enroot: $13,500

Program for immigrant high school students and support into their first 2 years of post-secondary education.

Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS): $8,500

Provides services and resources for Portuguese-speaking and other immigrants.

Project Citizenship: $5,000

Provides free legal services and other assistance to those applying for citizenship.


Cambridge Forum: $1,000

Promoting free public discussion of social issues through live audience presentations which are recorded for radio.

Cambridge Local First: $5,000

A network of locally owned and independent businesses building a strong local economy and vibrant community

Charles River Conservancy: $3,000

Provides volunteer programs, advocacy work, events that invite all to use and care for the Charles River and its parks.

Many Helping Hands 365: $5,000

Increases local volunteerism by organizing an annual day of service and a gun buy-back day and manages a website with volunteer opportunities.

The Port Café: $2,500

Hosts monthly meals in a community café to bring people together across social barriers.


Boston Comic Arts Foundation Limited: $1,000

Funds comic art festivals and educational programs as well as providing grants to artists to print and promote their work.

Cambridge Art Association: $2,000

Serves visual artists via exhibits, hands-on educational programs, and professional development opportunities.

Cambridge Community Chorus: $1,500

Provides access to a wide range of music to the community through a group of singers.

Cambridge Symphony Orchestra: $1,500

A community music organization that presents classical music for diverse audiences.

Community Art Center: $13,500

Provides intensive year-round activities for youth 5-19, youth-led community programming that engages local/ national audiences in quality artistic experiences.

Dance in the Schools: $3,000

Integrates a broad array of dance forms into the academic and arts curricula to enhance and deepen learning for elementary students.

Eureka Ensemble: $2,000

Operates projects that utilize musical performance and education as mechanisms for social change.

Filarmonica Santo Antonio, Inc.: $1,000

Portuguese cultural center keeping traditions alive and offering free music lessons.

Improv Boston: $5,000

Serves the community through laughter with an acclaimed comedy training program and regular performances that explore the creative process.


Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition: $40,000 (second installment of a three-year commitment)

The Cambridge Community Foundation helped create the Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition in 2015 with a mission to advance equity and justice in the community by strengthening the Cambridge nonprofit sector, building collective voice, and promoting collaboration. The Foundation has steadily supported it through strategic advice, grants, and office space.

The Work Force: $50,000

(the second installment of $150,000 over three years)

Cambridge Housing Authority’s results-driven Work Force program offers comprehensive, nine-year educational support, college prep, and job and career-readiness activities for local youth starting in the 8th grade.

About the Cambridge Community Foundation:

The Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) is the local giving platform for Cambridge supporting our city’s shared prosperity, social equity, and cultural richness, with roots that go a century deep. A grantmaker, philanthropic partner, and civic leader, the Foundation connects sectors across the community to highlight emerging and critical needs and catalyze efforts to ensure resources are focused where they can make the greatest difference.  CCF and its donors distribute $1.3 to $1.5 Million in grants to local nonprofits each year.

This year, in addition to distributing grants to 150 nonprofits serving the Cambridge community involved in human services, workforce training, housing, hunger, homelessness, elder services, youth and early childhood services, education, the Foundation raised and distributed over $2 million in COVID-19 relief funds and distributed them through several efforts. In March 2020, the Foundation established the Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund and the Cambridge Artist Relief Fund raising over $1.2 million in partnership with its donors. Within four months all dollars raised were distributed to 1,475 individuals, families, and artists; 27 nonprofits offering cash assistance to our vulnerable populations; and 36 arts organizations. The Foundation also partnered with the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, distributed $695,000 in grants supporting nonprofits in Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford. Its initiative Feeding Our Hometown Heroes funded the delivery of 4,000 local, nutritious restaurant meals to overworked frontline hospital staff spring 2020, while supporting restaurant workers affected by COVID-19. Its Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund continues its work, which is now focuses on funding nonprofits continuing to respond to the pandemic’s effects on our local area.


For more information, please contact:
Lauren Marshall
Director of Marketing and Civic Engagement
(617) 576-9966
[email protected]