The Cambridge Community Foundation sees finding and fostering the next generation of social innovators as part of its core mission to support a robust nonprofit sector.

The Cambridge Community Foundation created the Imagined in Cambridge Social Innovation Award in 2019 to uncover young innovators working to solve some of our most intractable social problems. Through this annual Award cycle, the Foundation and its Award judges seek out innovators with creative, light-touch ideas that inspire new models for improving the quality of life for people in Cambridge – and hopefully the broader world. To date, the Foundation has awarded funds to 10 exceptional social innovators in our community. Learn about the work of our 2020 award winners.

If you’re a Cambridge-based social entrepreneur, scroll down for local resources to help your mission thrive.

The Imagined in Cambridge Fund

Photo by Allegra Boverman of the 2019 Imagined in Cambridge Social Innovation Award winners.

In partnership with committed donors, the Foundation has created a new Imagined in Cambridge Fund in fall 2020.

Starting in early 2021, this Fund will be open to any past applicant to the Imagined in Cambridge Social Innovation Award. The Fund will provide microgrants of up to $500 per venture, for a designated purpose that will advance and/or support the innovative idea of the applicant.  Applications for support will be accepted beginning in January 2021 and will be reviewed on a rolling basis by a three-person review committee consisting of: one member of the Cambridge Community Foundation’s Program Committee; one past winner of the Social Innovation Award; and one past judge of the Social Innovation Award.

We invite community donors to help us grow this Fund by giving here.

More resources for social entrepreneurs

Photo by Friday Night Hype, a 2020 Imagined in Cambridge Social Innovation Award winner.

The Foundation is growing a list of local resources for social entrepreneurs. Check back regularly for updates and please send additional suggested resources to [email protected]

  • Cambridge Innovation Center: A collaborative space for entrepreneurs in Kendall Square. Check their website for events.
  • Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition: Advances equity and justice in the community by strengthening the Cambridge nonprofit sector, building collective voice, and promoting collaboration. Become a member organization!
  • Social Innovation Forum: The Social Innovation Forum (SIF) provides a unique combination of capacity building and network building to create positive social change in Greater Boston. SIF actively connects supporters (funders, investors, and volunteers) and practitioners (nonprofit and social business leaders) to build productive relationships focused on growing social impact.
  • Center for Women & Enterprise: CWE is committed to providing opportunities for women entrepreneurs and small businesses led by women to increase professional success, financial independence, and personal growth. They are a resource for all genders. Note: Some of their programs are funded by the City of Cambridge and free of charge for Cambridge residents and some include a fee.
  • Cambridge Community Development Department – Economic Development Division: This City of Cambridge office offers workshops and the Small Business Coaching Program, providing one-to-one coaching for eligible Cambridge businesses.
  • Roddenberry Fellowship: a 12-month program that offers fellows $50,000 to take an existing initiative (e.g. campaign, organization) to the next level and amplify its impact OR to launch a new initiative.

Local fundraising sources:

  • Awesome Foundation: Rolling monthly application deadlines. $1,000 prize maximum.
  • Amelia Peabody Foundation: Quarterly application deadlines. The Foundation’s mission is “to increase, through close collaboration with local
    agencies, the number, range, and depth of positive learning experiences available to materially disadvantaged young people living in the cities and towns of Massachusetts.” 501(c)(3)or Fiscal Sponsorship required.
  • The Paul and Edith Babson Foundation: Two annual grantmaking cycles. Average grant size is $4,000. The grants program focuses on three program areas: Entrepreneurship and Economic Development; Culture, Education and Leadership Development; Environment and Community Building.
  • Barr Foundation: Paths to a grant from Barr include: invited proposals, occasional RFPs (to get notified about RFPs, sign up for their “general news” newsletter). One way to get on their radar is to “submit an inquiry.”
  • Cambridge Community Foundation: Accepts proposals for Community Fund grants in the Spring (January-February) and Fall (September-October).
  • The Boston FoundationNow accepting applications for Open Door Grants through February 1, 2021. Nonprofit orgs that serve communities historically excluded from institutional philanthropy are encouraged to apply.
  • Cambridge Trust: The bank is a reliable Cambridge supporter. Rolling deadlines.
  • Citizen’s Bank: Citizen’s Bank is a reliable funder in Cambridge. Rolling deadline.
  • Eastern Bank: The bank offers a Neighborhood grant for orgs that are not a 501(c)(3). With 501(c)(3) status, an
    org could apply for a Community Grant.