Published On: December 7th, 2023

New grants build on $1.1 million strategic investment in food safety net this fall

The Cambridge Community Foundation has announced two new rounds of grantmaking to local nonprofits to address pressing community needs and shore up the nonprofit ecosystem.

Fifty-five community-based organizations will receive $389,500 in new grants through the Community Fund to support general operations and programs in education, youth and workforce development, community building and engagement, food security, health and wellbeing, housing, environment, and arts and culture. The Community Fund is the Foundation’s long-standing, bi-annual grantmaking program, established to respond to emerging needs and strengthen our vibrant nonprofit sector’s ability to support the Cambridge community. Scroll down for a list of grant recipients.

An additional $392,919 will be distributed to Cambridge Community Center, Food For Free, and Mystic Valley YMCA as part of the Foundation’s food security infrastructure investments made possible by the State of Massachusetts Community Development Block Grant Program through the ongoing partnership of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC). Grants through this partnership support organizations in Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford.

These grants bring the Foundation’s total investment in community this fall to $1.9 million. In October, the Foundation announced the strategic investment of more than $1.1 million to address food access and security. It was the first step in a new five-year strategic plan, to ensure Cambridge remains a vibrant, just, and equitable city for all. In 2024, the Foundation will continue to build on its strategic initiatives and launch new ones.

“At a time when economic divides are widening, our nonprofit partners are critical to the wellbeing of all neighbors and Cambridge as a whole,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation. “And while we’ve pledged to take bigger, bolder steps to address the systemic problems our city faces in deep partnership, we will continue to offer responsive grants to our nonprofits, who are addressing community needs and supporting opportunities for all.”

Nearly half of the Community Fund grants went to general operating support – demonstrating the ongoing need for nonprofits to use funding at their discretion to bolster their organizations. By making Community Fund dollars flexible, the Foundation puts trust in the nonprofits to apply the funds where they are needed most. YWCA Cambridge will use its fall operating grant to make a much-needed investment in its website and other communications tools. 

 “Landline and website upgrades don’t sound sexy, but they will have an exponential effect for our clients and community, and it’s been hard to find this kind of flexible funding to make these updates,” said Cassandra Ling, YWCA Cambridge’s executive director. “Folks are calling us daily in need of shelter and housing or looking for food or employment resources, so we’re building an easy, readily-available directory of community resources for anyone who needs help now – and for anyone who wants to give back.”

“This fall’s grant recipients are testament to the wide range of needs of city residents and all those who rely on Cambridge, and we’re grateful our city can count on these organizations for their ongoing support,” said Christina Turner, director of programs and grantmaking. “We invest in nonprofits because we know and trust they will do good by Cambridge.”

The grants range from $1,500 to $20,000. The decisions were informed by a 20-person volunteer committee of community members who reviewed each application.

The Cambridge Community Foundation has a set amount of funding allocated to the Community Fund in each cycle and invites co-investors to help grow the available dollars. In response to the dramatic increase in grant requests this fall, generous donors from its Donor Advised Fund community helped to expand the pool of available funds. The donors’ combined contributions enabled the Foundation to raise the grantmaking pool by 17 cents on the dollar. This Fall’s Community Fund co-investors include the Carol K. Engler Foundation, Cosulich Family Charitable Fund, Johnson Family, Laskin Fund for Cambridge, RBS04 Fund, The Gardiner Family Fund, and Upland Gardens Fund.

The application for CCF’s Community Fund Spring grant cycle will open on January 8, 2024. Please visit our website for more information:

State-funded Food Security Grant Recipients

Cambridge Community Center $93,571

To improve the capacity of its food pantry, which operates Tuesday through Friday weekly.

Food For Free $194,000

To improve the capacity of its Just Eats and Healthy Eats programs and to continue food delivery services throughout Cambridge.

Mystic Valley YMCA  $105,348

To improve infrastructure and strengthen capacity for its markets.

Community Fund Fall Grant Recipients

Cultural Richness

Cambridge Art Association $5,000

Professional development programs designed to give visual artists the business tools they need to build successful visual arts practices.

Cambridge Community Chorus $1,500

Ongoing operations and activities of the Cambridge Community Chorus.

Cambridge Community Television $15,000

Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) increases arts and civic engagement for young Cambridge residents (ages (14-24) and bridges the gap between youth programs and young adult workforce development programs, all while telling the stories of Cambridge through the eyes of this demographic.

Cambridge Local First $5,000

Operating support to fund outreach and engagement with newly opened local businesses, local businesses owned by women, and businesses owned by BIPOC-identifying individuals.

Community Dispute Settlement Center $10,000

To support our integral work in Cambridge including: mediating with consumers and merchants and landlords and tenants, work with youth in the Cambridge Juvenile Court; conflict coaching with members of the Cambridge community; provision of Conflict Skills Workshops to Cambridge-based groups and work with Cambridge schools and youth groups.

Dance in the Schools $4,500

Dance in the Schools enriches academic and creative learning for students in the twelve Cambridge Public Elementary Schools by integrating dance and movement into the curriculum at no cost.

History Cambridge $2,500

In Phase 2 of the Indigenous Voices of Cambridge project, History Cambridge will host focus groups and online surveys of Cambridge-based educators, with the goal of gathering information about their level of knowledge and interest in the Indigenous/American Indian history in the place we now call Cambridge, and the challenges and opportunities to sharing this knowledge with their students.

Central Square Business Improvement District $2,500

The Activating the Edges initiative where BIPOC musicians perform in public spaces not traditionally frequented by buskers.

JazzBoston $2,500

The continuation and expansion of Jazz All Ways (JAW).

Multicultural Arts Center $7,500

The “Artist in Residence” program will offer emerging artists a six-month residency, with rehearsal space, a stipend, professional development, several workshops to solicit feedback on works in progress, and mentorship from artists and other professionals in the Multicultural Arts Center community.

Project Citizenship $4,700

Project Citizenship helps eligible Cambridge immigrant residents to achieve citizenship with free, high-quality, legal services.

Soca Fusion $2,500

Soca Fusion’s operational success and the enrichment and empowerment of the myriad BIPOC talents striving to sculpt a brighter, more inclusive future.

Tunefoolery Music $3,000

Open mics at two sites and monthly live music at two senior facilities in Cambridge.

Shared Prosperity

Boston Comic Arts Foundation $1,500

The launch of comic workshops for kids ages 13-18 in partnership with Bridges Homeward.

Breakthrough Greater Boston $15,000

The delivery of programming for low-income, students of color in Cambridge from 7th-grade through college.

Breaktime United $5,000

Expansion into Cambridge for a 3.5-year supported transitional employment program for young adult residents experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

Cambridge Camping Association $20,000

The 2024 season at Daybreak and Adventure Day camp, which are designed to address equity issues and provide a trauma sensitive, caring, and welcoming community.

Cambridge Math Circle $3,500

Sustain after school math enrichment programs, serving Cambridge Public School students, and to continue CMC’s city-wide MLK Day Math Festival.

Cambridge School Volunteers $7,500

Providing classroom support for the elementary coding program Scratch, tutors for the BRYT Program at CRLS and evening of tutoring at the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library.

Center for Women & Enterprise $5,000

Free and low-cost programming to increase access to entrepreneurship training for low-income women in Cambridge, MA.

Charles River Conservancy $4,000

Make the Charles River and its parks a well-maintained network of natural urban places that invite and engage all in their use and stewardship while advancing the goals of the 2019-2024 strategic plan.

CitySprouts $5,000

The evolution of our Cambridge Young Leaders Program (YLP), a tuition-free Out of School Time program that engages youth ages 10-14 in gardening, science, leadership and community.

Community Art Center $12,500

Childcare, after-school arts enrichment, and immersive summer camps.

Discovering Justice: $1,500

Work with Cambridge K-3 teachers to roll out its unique justice-based civic education curricula.

Enroot $15,000

Wraparound programming for immigrant high school and college students which includes mentorship, academic tutoring, leadership development, job readiness, post-secondary preparation and access, college success, STEM exposure, and mental health and well-being support.

Innovators for Purpose $7,725

Building a vibrant and diverse community of emerging artists, designers, scientists, technologists, and other purpose-driven youth. Funding will fuel creative projects and workshops, enabling youth to realize their potential and leave a lasting mark on the world.

Just A Start Corporation $14,000

Workforce Development Programs for low-income youth and adults: Career Connect – an intensive nine-month training program for low-income adults to enter sustainable careers in the Biomedical and IT industries, and YouthBuild Just A Start – an opportunity for low-income out-of-school-youth to reclaim their education and develop work and life skills to become leaders in their community.

Girls’ LEAP $2,500

Implement the community program in collaboration with a sponsoring Cambridge community partner during school year ’23-’24.

Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers $9,000

Supporting the Immigrant Integration Services Program and the Cambridge Senior Center.

Playworks New England $4,500

Equitable safe and healthy play opportunities for students at Fletcher Maynard Academy through the TeamUp program.

Prospect Hill Academy Charter School $2,000

STEAM classes on Saturday mornings during the school year to help narrow the opportunity gap by teaching experiential learning classes throughout the year for students who wouldn’t normally have access.

Resident Services Empowerment (Cambridge Housing Authority) $15,000

The Work Force Youth Program, an after-school educational enrichment, college prep, and work-readiness program annually serves 350 teens and young adults that reside in CHA properties across Cambridge. Uniquely comprehensive in both its manner and duration of support, the program provides participants with sustained networks of learning that prepares them for long-term personal and professional success.

Science Club for Girls $8,000

The continued expansion of high-quality, hands-on, free out-of-school-time STEM education and mentorship programs for underrepresented girls and gender-expansive youth.

Self Esteem Boston Educational Institute $3,000

The “You’re Worth It” program at the Caspar/Baycove Womanplace transitional residential recovery program in Cambridge.

The Loop Lab $10,000

Serving young people of color in Cambridge through Media Arts apprenticeship opportunities and the pipeline through the Media Arts Youth Program for high school students.

Tutoring Plus of Cambridge $12,500

Expansion of the 1-on-1 tutoring program at the Fresh Pond Apartments site.

uAspire $5,000

Support to the college affordability program delivered to approximately 500 students from Cambridge Rindge & Latin School during the 2023-2024 academic school year.

Women of Color Entrepreneurs $5,000

To support women of color entrepreneurs through the fifth cohort in 2024.

Social Equity

Bridges Homeward $5,000

General operating costs related to the provision of social services to Cambridge residents, predominantly clients of our Developmental Disabilities program.

Cambridge Neighbors $3,000

Subsidized membership to low- to moderate-income Cambridge elders who live alone and would benefit from critical practical and social supports.

Caritas Communities $5,000

Operating costs for Caritas’ Resident Support Services program in Cambridge.

Casa Myrna Vazquez $2,000

To provide comprehensive, trauma-informed programming including shelter, housing advocacy, economic stability, counseling, and basic needs.

CASPAR $15,000

Funding to support the program operations of the Emergency Services Center and Shelters in Cambridge, which includes two overnight shelters, a seasonal warming center and the First Step Street Outreach Team.

Community Conversations: Sister to Sister $7,500

To address the growing community need for culturally relevant, equity focused health strategies, Community Conversations will assess the community’s evolving health needs; retool their program delivery system to be safe, engaging and robust in a variety of settings and build infrastructure for organizational growth and sustainability.

De Novo Center for Justice and Healing $12,000

Free civil legal assistance and mental health counseling for low-income people.

Fenway Community Health Center $7,000

The ongoing programmatic needs of the Youth on Fire (YOF) drop-in center in Harvard Square.

FriendshipWorks $5,000

An on-going partnership with Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) to connect isolated, older residents to volunteers of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds for the Friendly Visiting program.

Homeowners Rehab $10,000

Implementation of the Community Investment Plan (CIP).

HomeStart $10,000

To sustain HomeStart’s housing search, stabilization and eviction prevention services in Cambridge that help low-income at-risk individuals and families experiencing homelessness and housing crisis get back on the path to long-term housing stability.

Paine Senior Services $7,000

Payment for services for clients who cannot pay a fee and would otherwise refuse needed help.

Riverside Community Care $7,500

The continuation of direct services led by the Community Services Agency (CSA) helping children and families in crisis in Cambridge.

Solutions At Work $6,000

Support to inventory managers and van outreach to persons living on the street in Cambridge.

Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services $10,000

In-home mental health services for older Cambridge adults through the Connect Program.

St. James Helping Hand Pantry $6,000

The Helping Hand Food Pantry supports Cambridge residents experiencing food insecurity with healthy, culturally appropriate food options.

WHOLE $6,000

Through the Community Groups project, WHOLE will increase free mental health groups, partner with organizations to provide community-based panel discussions and offer wellbeing-based workshops with local providers.

YWCA Cambridge $8,000

Upgrading the website and making it more user-friendly.