Climate ChangeGreenovateRenew Boston


By October 19, 2019 No Comments

The New England Grassroots Environment Fund provides local volunteer initiatives with funding, training, and the resources they need to continue to make our city greener and more equitable.

Bostonians are passionate about their city, and they work hard to make their communities stronger, healthier, and more resilient. Local groups promote biking to help their communities get fit and reduce emissions; they work to provide healthy food in their schools; and they turn vacant lots into productive community gardens.

These driven Bostonians support our City’s climate, equity, and health goals – and this work requires a lot of time, money, skills, and resources. So where do Boston’s environmental community groups get the resources they need to continue doing their good work? Many receive support through the New England Grassroots Environment Fund (NEGEF).

Grassroots sustainability projects in Boston

NEGEF receives gifts from private foundations, public foundations, community foundations, and individuals — which it has used to provide grants to more than 70 Boston environmental organizations and initiatives. All grantees are included on this project map. Their support has helped local groups create community gardens, teach teens how to advocate for environmental health and social justice, and create biking infrastructure — just to name a few of the many projects the Grassroots Fund has helped make possible in Boston since 1996.

The Grassroots Fund provides “seed grants,” up to $1,000 to community-based groups with newly evolving local projects, “grow grants,” up to $3,500 to groups working to expand existing projects and broaden their scope, and “harvest grants” – special opportunity grants to well-established initiatives. (Photo: map of sustainability projects that the Grassroots Fund has supported in Boston)

Support means much more than money

But the Grassroots Fund provides much more than money to local projects: It focuses on grantees stories in order to help them develop social capital. The Grassroots Fund tells their stories in videos highlighting their grassroots efforts and volunteer leaders called PEP Talks, in its RootShare news email bulletins, and on its blog.

The Grassroots Fund also equips grantees with tools, or intellectual capital, that will allow it to sustain its work in the longterm. It provides technical resources, process guides, and trainings called RootSkills about nonprofit management, community organizing, and communication.

Grassroots Fund and the Greenovate community

Several local groups have received support through the Grassroots Fund – including a few Greenovate Award Winners!

Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition – Mattapan

The Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalitionworks to provide healthy and affordable food, and create safe, inviting, and accessible recreational spaces and streets in Mattapan. The Coalition received grants from the Grassroots Fund to help it build a garden shed and arbor for its 24-plot Kennedy community garden. The grant also supported its annual Mattapan on Wheels event, which promotes biking as a form of physical activity in the neighborhood and promotes the natural beauty and landscape of the community. (Photo: Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition’s annual Mattapan on Wheels event)

BLS Youth Climate Action Network (YouthCAN) – Fenway-Kenmore

Boston Latin School’s Youth Climate Action Network(BLS YouthCAN) runs a community garden, provides environmental education, and does lots more at the Fenway/Kenmore school. In 2012 they received a grantfrom the Grassroots Fund, which helped them run a weekly garden maintenance program that employs Youth CAN students as environmental education mentors for local elementary school students. (Photo: BLS students equipped to maintain their community garden)

Eastie Farm – East Boston

Eastie Farm, which revitalized an abandoned lot in East Boston and runs it as a community urban food forest, received a grant from the Grassroots Fund this year. It helped them build a shed for the food forest, purchase tools, and develop materials for monthly educational events. (Photo: East Boston residents in Eastie Farm’s community urban food forest)

How can other groups and individuals apply for grants through the Grassroots Fund?

The Grassroots Fund supports both informal (unincorporated) groups and individuals and formal (incorporated or 501c3 status) organizations with an annual budget of less than $100,000. They define grassroots as “everyday people, neighbors, who are engaged in local level issues, for whom community-based work is a passion and whose volunteer time is a priceless contribution to the common good.” They push grantees to operate with deep commitment to social responsibility and consider the implications of their work on local communities, economies, and cultural values.

Got a project that qualifies for funding?

You can learn more about New England Grassroots Environment Fund and the find grant applications on their website. Stay tuned for a one-stop shop resource from Greenovate about how local sustainability organizations can take advantage of the Grassroots Fund’s support. As always, we’ll keep you updated with news and opportunities from this local Greenovator.