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Greater Worcester Community Foundation Awards $2.1 Million in Grants to Nonprofits Addressing Key Community Issues

October 2023

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Greater Worcester Community Foundation has announced 148 grants totaling $2.1 million through its competitive Community Grants program for nonprofit organizations serving Worcester County.

Ninety nonprofits will receive a total of $1,295,200 for general operating support, providing them with valuable unrestricted dollars to help advance their mission. The remaining $813,000 will support projects led by 58 nonprofits in the region, with more than a dozen organizations receiving both project and operating grants.

The Foundation selected community grant recipients that were in alignment with its four strategic focus areas:

Youth & Families

$923,000 (44%) of community grant funding will go to organizations and programs serving youth & families. This includes an array of afterschool and summer programming for youth. It also includes wealth-building initiatives, such as a pilot program by the Center for Women and Enterprise that will provide training and technical assistance to 10 low- to moderate-income women in the county, helping them develop the financial and business skills necessary to start and grow businesses, create jobs and drive economic growth.

Support for refugee individuals and families was also a clear pressing need. Fifteen organizations and projects will receive funding to support numerous services to incoming and recently arrived individuals and families, from case management to advocacy and mentoring. Grantees include the Welcoming Alliance for Refugees Ministry, where funding will help provide a wide range of services, from mental health support groups and assistance in navigating the healthcare system to driving and language lessons.

We are grateful to receive a renewed operating grant from the Community Foundation as we work to meet the needs of incoming refugees while continuing to support those who have arrived and need additional care and friendship as they integrate into our community.

- Jennifer Frye, Executive Director, Welcoming Alliance for Refugees Ministry


$470,200 (22%) of community grants will support arts & culture projects, a 5% increase from the previous year. ArtsWorcester received an operating grant and a project grant to support a youth program for students interested in a career in arts administration. El Salón, a new gallery and cultural center in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood, also received operating and project grants and will offer free monthly programming to the public.

Basic Needs

$433,000 (21%) will go towards organizations supporting the basic needs of residents, including housing, shelter and food security. Grantees include Open Sky Community Services, with funding to support its South County Housing Assistance Program participants from Southern Worcester County with resources to establish a path to housing security.

Our goal is for 100% of participants to be stably housed, which opens pathways and opportunities for growth both individually and within the community. Those with stable housing are more likely to maintain employment, maintain physical and mental health and have a strong sense of security and success.

- Laurel Brazao, SCHAP Housing Team Lead, Open Sky Community Services


$282,000 (19%) will support health initiatives and organizations helping individuals and families thrive, including nutrition programs, cancer support and mental health services.

In 2023, the Foundation saw its highest number of applicants to its Community Grants program. To practice more trust-based philanthropy, the Foundation piloted a new application process this year where its staff met with nonprofits one-on-one instead of requiring a traditional grant application. In addition to the four focus areas listed above, proposals were assessed using the lenses of equity, community voice, and systems change. The Foundation was able to fund 60% of applicants.

We are proud to support so many organizations that are working tirelessly to address the complex challenges facing our communities. By investing in these four focus areas, we are working in partnership with local nonprofits and our donors to build a vibrant, thriving and inclusive region.

- Pete Dunn, President & CEO, Greater Worcester Community Foundation

Greater Worcester Community Foundation makes grants of approximately $10 million a year through a variety of funds that donors have created since its founding in 1975. The Foundation’s more than 600 funds are managed and invested to grow over time, and grants are distributed to support the community's wellbeing now and in the future. The Community Grants program is made possible by people who have set up discretionary and field of interest funds with the Foundation.

For more information about the grants and recipients, download the 2023 Community Grants Summary.

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