Philanthropy in Boston 2017
Just in time for the holiday season, see who made our list of the city's most influential givers. Minimum admission price: $2.3 million. —By Scott Van Voorhis
Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston
ANNUAL GIVING: $129.6 million
THE GOAL: Keep future generations (including, ahem, religion-averse millennials) invested in Jewish life and Israel.
THE PLAYERS: At the helm for three decades, president Barry Shrage led a campaign to raise more than $55 million in 2015; big donors include Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who recently gave $10 million.
WHAT SETS IT APART: It’s not just Boston that benefits from this philanthropy’s generosity: CJP helps more than 100 organizations here, in Israel, and across the globe.
The Boston Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $100.8 million
THE GOAL: Make life better for everyone in Boston, with a focus on education, housing, the arts, and economic issues.
THE PLAYERS: Chief executive and president Paul Grogan probably knows the Hub as well as any local glad-hander ever has: He got his start as an aide and speechwriter for Mayor Kevin White decades ago.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The organization not only plays a crucial behind-the-scenes funding role, but also takes the lead in sparking debate on critical issues facing the city, from struggling urban schools to the soaring cost of housing.
ANNUAL GIVING: $55.1 million
THE GOAL: Barr supports a grab bag of passion projects, from Year Up, which hooks young adults up with school and career opportunities, to climate change research.
THE PLAYERS: Barbara and Amos Hostetter, who sold Continental Cablevision for $10.8 billion in 1996.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Talk about humility: For more than a decade, the Hostetters gave away hundreds of millions of dollars under the condition that the source of the cash not be revealed. Realizing their giving would be more effective with their names behind it, they shed their anonymity in 2010.
Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $51 million
THE GOAL: Encourage broader scientific and medical research to tackle disabling and life-threatening illnesses.
THE PLAYERS: Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Dorchester son and billionaire owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and his wife, Miriam, a medical doctor and researcher.
WHAT SETS IT APART: While many foundations rally behind a specific medical initiative, the Adelson Foundation aims to transform the way research is conducted, bringing together the brightest minds to fight melanoma, inflammatory bowel disease,
and a host of other maladies.
ANNUAL GIVING: $47 million
THE GOAL: Raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through an annual bike-a-thon across Massachusetts.
THE PLAYERS: Executive director and avid cyclist Billy Starr still puts the pedal to the metal every year for the cross-state journey.
WHAT SETS IT APART: It’s reportedly the largest athletic fundraiser in the country, raising more than half of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue in support of Dana-Farber.
The Klarman Family Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $39.6 million
THE GOAL: Champion medical and scientific research, the Jewish community, and music education.
THE PLAYERS: Seth Klarman, CEO and president of the $30 billion hedge fund the Baupost Group, launched the foundation with his wife, Beth, in 1991.
WHAT SETS IT APART: In 2012, the power couple announced they were forking over their largest donation yet—$32.5 million—to create the Klarman Cell Observatory at the Broad Institute. The aim? To compile a “complete catalog of cell circuitry” that could lead to scientific breakthroughs.
Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment/Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust
ANNUAL GIVING: $28.7 million (combined)
THE GOAL: Protect and preserve humanity’s most precious resource: the
THE PLAYERS: Jeremy Grantham, cofounder and chief strategist of the investment management firm GMO, and his wife, Hannelore.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Jeremy Grantham has earned a following for his outspoken views on both investment and the environment: His widely read quarterly newsletters contend that humanity will face “suffering on a vast scale” unless we put aside short-term profits and embrace a sustainable future.
ANNUAL GIVING: $27.7 million
THE GOAL: Put future generations first by financing child-welfare and education-reform initiatives—and encourage a thriving Jewish community.
THE PLAYERS: Jonathon Jacobson, cofounder of the firm Highfields Capital Management, and his wife, Joanna, the former president of Keds.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The One8 Foundation takes a “venture philanthropy” approach to the causes it backs, seeking out groups with revolutionary ideas that can show measurable results.
ANNUAL GIVING: $22.6 million (combined)
THE GOAL: Give underprivileged kids and families a boost through initiatives related to education, healthcare, athletics, and more.
THE PLAYERS: James Healey, former vice president of broadcasting for the Red Sox, serves as president of the charitable foundations founded by the late former team owner Tom Yawkey and his wife, Jean.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The foundations’ largest educational endeavor is the Yawkey Scholars Program, which has awarded $11 million in scholarships to disadvantaged students since 2005; other academic-related grants include $500,000 to Bentley University and $2 million to build a baseball field for BC High and UMass Boston, complete with a replica Green Monster.
ANNUAL GIVING: $20.9 million
THE GOAL: Help nonprofit organizations become self-sustaining.
THE PLAYERS: They need no introduction: Abigail Johnson, Fidelity Investments’ chairman and chief executive officer, and her father, Edward “Ned” Johnson III, chairman emeritus.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Though the Fidelity Foundation has an old-fashioned Yankee reserve about broadcasting its accomplishments and activities, it doles out more than just grants, offering the organizations it works with management and organization training.
Liberty Mutual Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $17.7 million
THE GOAL: Bankroll a range of charities based where Liberty Mutual employees work and play: Boston, Seattle, and Dallas.
THE PLAYERS: Company CEO David Long, who joined Liberty Mutual in 1985, is also chief executive and chairman of its charitable foundation.
WHAT SETS IT APART: While many philanthropies support a few pet causes with large grants, Liberty Mutual’s foundation spreads the wealth, giving to dozens of local groups.
Nellie Mae Education Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $17.2 million
THE GOAL: Is it a surprise that the charitable arm of the nonprofit student-loan behemoth works to improve local school performance?
THE PLAYERS: In 2015, the foundation’s president and chief executive, Nick Donohue, was named one of the 50 People Shaping the Future of K-12 Education by Getting Smart, an organization focused on teaching and learning innovations.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Nellie Mae recently offered up $200 million for a campaign aimed at ensuring that 80 percent of New England high school grads are college- or career-ready by 2030.
State Street Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $15.8 million
THE GOAL: Help people find their dream careers by backing nonprofits that focus on education and job readiness.
THE PLAYERS: Michael Scannell wears two hats: He’s the senior vice president of Corporate Citizenship for State Street, the globe-spanning financial services firm, and head of its charitable foundation.
WHAT SETS IT APART: In 2015, the foundation teamed up with local nonprofits to roll out the $20 million Boston Workforce Investment Network—Boston WINs—in hopes of boosting college enrollment among Hub high schoolers and opening up career opportunities after graduation.
Amelia Peabody Foundation/Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund
ANNUAL GIVING: $14.4 million (combined)
THE GOAL: The foundation supports nonprofits that work with underprivileged youth in Dorchester and across the state, while the smaller charitable fund helps local medical, arts, and conservation organizations.
THE PLAYERS: Born to a wealthy New England family in 1890, the late Amelia Peabody was a devoted philanthropist and accomplished sculptor who supported local hospitals. Both organizations are now run by the children of the original trustees, including Peabody’s longtime lawyer.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Since Peabody’s death in 1984, the foundation has continued her legacy, with a renewed focus over the past 14 years on helping kids through assistance of organizations such as the Codman Square Health Center.
Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $14.3 million
THE GOAL: Help low-income people in Greater Boston get the healthcare they need and the education they deserve.
THE PLAYERS: Richard Smith serves as chairman of the foundation, funded through the sale of two family businesses, Neiman Marcus and Harcourt General.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Though she died in 2016, Smith’s wife, Susan, was a major player on Boston’s philanthropic scene, credited with having a crucial role in the creation of a new Dana-Farber center that brought research for women’s cancer under one roof.
Rodman Ride for Kids
ANNUAL GIVING: $13.6 million
THE GOAL: Raise funds for groups that work with at-risk youngsters—think Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Clubs—highlighted by a single-day bike ride with routes of 25, 50, and (for the overachievers among us) 100 miles.
THE PLAYERS: It’s a family affair: Don Rodman, owner of Rodman Ford in Foxborough, started the charity in 1991 and now operates it full-time; his sons, Curt and Brett, run the dealership and serve on the board.
WHAT SETS IT APART: It’s not easy to create a bike-a-thon as successful as the Rodman Ride for Kids, which has raised more than $100 million since it started in 1991.
Highland Street Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $13.5 million
THE GOAL: Help struggling families get back on their feet (and have a little fun in the process).
THE PLAYERS: Launched in 1989 by the late David McGrath Jr., owner and founder of TAD Resources—a temp firm for companies requiring technical expertise—the Newton-based foundation is now run by his wife, JoAnn, and their five children.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Highland is always on the hunt for creative programs and initiatives to back, from Cradles to Crayons, which provides home and school basics to homeless and low-income children, to Free Fun Fridays, which offers gratis admission at dozens of museums and cultural institutions across the state.
Linde Family Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $12.7 million
THE GOAL: Keep the heart of the city—its arts and culture scene—beating, and the brain—its education and healthcare sectors—thriving.
THE PLAYERS: Philanthropic powerhouse Joyce Linde—wife of the late Ed Linde, who cofounded the real estate giant Boston Properties—and her son, Douglas.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The Linde clan is low-key about its multimillion-dollar giving, but actions speak louder than words: The foundation left its mark on Boston with the $12.5 million contemporary-art wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, for which it was the main donor.
Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $12.7 million
THE GOAL: Support future generations—and innovations—through the funding of schools, hospitals, and other institutions.
THE PLAYERS: Billionaire entertainment mogul Sumner Redstone, whose National Amusements cinema chain is based in Norwood.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The flash of show biz tempered with a dose of local love: In addition to giving to the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the Museum of the Moving Image, the philanthropy has thrown its weight behind a number of Hub universities—including an $18 million gift to the BU School of Law.
Cure Alzheimer’s Fund
ANNUAL GIVING: $12.4 million
THE GOAL: Win the fight against Alzheimer’s disease (for more on the race for a cure, see page 88).
THE PLAYERS: Bigwigs whose families have suffered from the disease: Henry McCance, chairman emeritus of Greylock Partners; real estate investor Phyllis Rappaport; Jacqueline Morby, senior adviser at the private equity firm TA Associates; and Jeffrey Morby, a retired Mellon Bank executive.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Cure Alzheimer’s takes a VC approach to financing potential drugs, placing big bets on possibly transformational treatments that conventional pharmaceutical firms won’t touch. There have been two notable successes so far, including a potential treatment accepted into an elite National Institutes of Health program.
ANNUAL GIVING: $12.4 million
THE GOAL: Combat poverty and domestic violence while bolstering education opportunities for vulnerable kids.
THE PLAYERS: TJX president and CEO Ernie Herrman—who got his start as a buyer at the company in 1989—heads up the company’s foundation, in addition to serving as a Save the Children trustee.
WHAT SETS IT APART: TJX takes a hyper-local approach to philanthropy: For a group to qualify for a grant, it needs to be within 15 miles of a TJX store, office, or distribution center. The giant retailer also puts its principles into practice in its business, paying employees in Puerto Rico even as its Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and HomeGoods stores were shuttered indefinitely by Hurricane Maria.
The Jaket Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $12.2 million
THE GOAL: Get kids moving through youth sports programs, with a sprinkling of grants for arts, education, and healthcare causes.
THE PLAYERS: Phillip Gross, cofounder of Adage Capital Management, and his wife, Elizabeth.
WHAT SETS IT APART: These Concord residents know how to take care of their neighbors, funding community groups like Concord Carlisle at Play, Concord Carlisle Community Chest, and the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts.
ANNUAL GIVING: $11.9 million
THE GOAL: Inspire the next generation of engineers by fundamentally changing the way they’re trained.
THE PLAYERS: Bernard Gordon was a pioneer in medical imaging at Analogic, which he founded in 1967. Now he and his wife, Sophia, are pushing to improve engineering education, which he contends has become too specialized.
WHAT SETS IT APART: “How could it be that the Romans built aqueducts 2,000 years ago that are still standing today, while the ceiling on the Big Dig tunnel came down in two years?” Gordon said in 2006. That same year, he donated $20 million each to Northeastern University and the Museum of Science, with the goal of getting kids young and old excited about the (hopefully brighter) future of engineering.
ANNUAL GIVING: $11.7 million
THE GOAL: Power religious organizations, educational institutions, and healthcare causes—especially cystic fibrosis research.
THE PLAYERS: Talk about rags to riches: Thomas Flatley arrived in the U.S. from Ireland in 1950 with $32 in his pocket. By the time he died in 2008, he was worth well over a billion dollars, having built a commercial real estate empire in the Boston area and beyond. His son, John, now oversees the charity his father founded.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The foundation supports its own lab dedicated to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis, a disease that has afflicted a member of the Flatley family.
Swanee Hunt Family Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $11.7 million
THE GOAL: Vanquish sex trafficking, make peacemaking more inclusive, and support the next generation of social justice warriors.
THE PLAYERS: Swanee Hunt served as U.S. ambassador to Austria under President Bill Clinton and currently lectures at the Harvard Kennedy School for Government.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Many foundations are content to cut checks to organizations doing good work. Swanee Hunt, however, doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk as a social and political activist and author: In June, she traveled to Rwanda to launch her latest book, f, which details the role female activists have played in rebuilding the country after the 1994 genocide.
ANNUAL GIVING: $11.6 million
THE GOAL: Bolster the smiles of people across the country.
THE PLAYERS: The philanthropic arm of DentaQuest, which provides dental insurance for 23 million people, is run by a full-time professional staff led by executive director Michael Monopoli, former dental director for the Massachusetts Office of Oral Health.
WHAT SETS IT APART: In addition to helping those in need maintain their pearly whites, the organization launched the Oral Health 2020 campaign, with lofty goals including eliminating dental disease in children and expanding insurance coverage for dental work.
John Merck Fund
ANNUAL GIVING: $11.1 million
THE GOAL: Facilitate research for kids’ developmental disabilities—and make everyone healthier through clean energy and other environmental initiatives.
THE PLAYERS: The late Serena Merck, of the wealthy pharmaceutical family, named the organization after her son in 1970; longtime nonprofit leader Christine James currently serves as executive director.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The fund announced a “spend-out” strategy five years ago, meaning it will give away 100 percent
of its assets—approaching $100 million—by 2022, then shut down. The goal, it says? To “make the biggest possible impact.”
High Meadows Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $10.3 million
THE GOAL: Take care of the earth by giving to a variety of environmental causes.
THE PLAYERS: Carl Ferenbach, cofounder of private equity investment firm Berkshire Partners.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The Boston-based foundation has thrust itself into the fight over the controversial sale of federal lands out west, helping organizations such as the Wilderness Society, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Climate Central.
Massachusetts Service Alliance
ANNUAL GIVING: $10.3 million
THE GOAL: Get Bay State residents—young and old—off the couch and involved in their communities.
THE PLAYERS: Before Emily Haber took the helm in 2008, she ran Boston’s Main Streets program, a public/private partnership that revitalizes old commercial districts in the city.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The aim of this nonprofit is not just to raise money but also to raise good samaritans: As the state commission on community service and volunteerism, it runs the AmeriCorps State program for Massachusetts and the Commonwealth Corps program, and supports organizations such as City Year.
ANNUAL GIVING: $7.8 million
THE GOAL: Spread the love with donations to dozens of colleges, hospitals, and museums in the Bay State.
THE PLAYERS: John Fish, the local mogul behind Boston-based Suffolk Construction, one of the largest privately held construction companies in the country.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The philanthropy provides the perfect platform for Fish to immerse himself in the community at large, from contributing to the Boston Scholar Athletes program to writing an $88,000 check to Partners HealthCare to fund Boston doctors’ flights to third-world countries.
The TripAdvisor-Expedia Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $7.3 million
THE GOAL: Take an appropriately global approach to giving, with a focus on disaster relief and health.
THE PLAYERS: Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO of TripAdvisor, and Seth Kalvert, the company’s general counsel.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The foundation made good on its mission in 2016, pledging $5 million to help refugees around the world get a decent education, including those forced to flee Syria.
New Balance Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $6.6 million
THE GOAL: Prevent childhood obesity by encouraging kids to lace up their sneakers and get moving.
THE PLAYERS: New Balance chairman Jim Davis—whose personal wealth Forbes pegs at $5.1 billion—and his wife, Anne.
WHAT SETS IT APART: They’re gonna need a bigger Fitbit: The foundation’s “Billion Mile Race” encourages students at schools across the country to tally the miles they walk and run. Monthly rewards include running equipment, New Balance kicks, and, of course, bragging rights.
Mooney-Reed Charitable Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $6.5 million
THE GOAL: Spread the Catholic gospel in the Boston area.
THE PLAYERS: The Baupost Group’s James Mooney knows how to make a buck and then some: He earned a 116 percent return after paying to acquire bilked investors’ financial claims against fraud artist Bernie Madoff. He runs the Mooney-Reed organization with his wife, Lisa.
WHAT SETS IT APART: A graduate of Holy Cross, James Mooney shares millions each year with Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and, of course, his alma mater.
Ruderman Family Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $6.4 million
THE GOAL: Advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities and connect the American Jewish community to Israel.
THE PLAYERS: The late Mort Ruderman made a fortune by cofounding the healthcare-software company Meditech and then starting his own development firm. His son, civil rights attorney Jay Ruderman, now runs the family foundation.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Rocking the boat is not something large philanthropies typically like to do. Not so with the Ruderman Family Foundation, which recently blasted the Boston Marathon movie Stronger for casting Jake Gyllenhaal, rather than an actor with a disability, in the role of double amputee Jeff Bauman.
The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $6.2 million
THE GOAL: Put a roof over the heads of homeless families in the Hub and beyond.
THE PLAYERS: Paul Fireman, former chief executive of Reebok, and his wife, Phyllis.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The Firemans have teamed up with state officials to launch the Secure Jobs Initiative, aimed at tackling the twin challenges of finding employment and housing for the homeless.
Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $5.6 million
THE GOAL: Support an array of the city’s most cherished community, healthcare, and educational institutions, from the New England Aquarium and Boston University to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
THE PLAYERS: Alan Leventhal, chairman and CEO of the real estate investment firm Beacon Capital Partners, and his wife, Sherry, who helped found Dorchester’s Neighborhood House Charter School.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Though neither went to school there, the Leventhals are major backers of BU, recently donating $10 million to provide financial aid for students and professorships. The prize? Their name on a shiny new admissions building.
ANNUAL GIVING: $5.6 million
THE GOAL: Advocate for Jewish causes in Boston and beyond.
THE PLAYERS: Sidney Swartz, former owner of the shoe company Timberland (which he sold for $2 billion in 2011), and his wife, Judith.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The foundation is a strong supporter of the American Israel Education Foundation ($1.5 million) and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston ($2.3 million), among many other organizations. It also went big with a $50 million donation to create an emergency center in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, in 2005.
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $5.2 million
THE GOAL: Lend a helping hand to nonprofits serving the same communities as Eastern Bank, to the tune of some 2,000 grants per year.
THE PLAYERS: Laura Kurzrok, who’s served as executive director since 2001, previously worked as a paralegal and retail buyer.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The foundation gives more than just cold, hard cash, advocating on Beacon Hill for pay equity, transgender accommodations, and more.
The Hyams Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $5.2 million
THE GOAL: Battle social and racial injustice, and eliminate economic disparities, in Boston and Chelsea.
THE PLAYERS: The philanthropy owes its millions to 19th-century mining tycoon Godfrey Hyams, who lived in Dorchester with his two sisters. Jocelyn Sargent took over as executive director in 2016, having previously cofounded the Center for Social Inclusion.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The Hyams Foundation is now awarding grants to smaller groups battling some of the initiatives coming out of the Trump White House, from mass deportations to efforts to scale back healthcare coverage.
William J. and Lia G. Poorvu Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $5.1 million
THE GOAL: Improve healthcare not just here, but around the world—and support local educational institutions.
THE PLAYERS: William Poorvu, a real estate investor, Harvard Business School professor emeritus, and hedge fund whiz, and his wife, Lia, a trustee at Wellesley College.
WHAT SETS IT APART: In late 2016, Lia traveled to Haiti with Brigham and Women’s to get a firsthand look at an initiative the couple is funding through the hospital to train the next generation of global health leaders.
Red Sox Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $4.9 million
THE GOAL: Help local kids, vets, and families lead healthy and happy lives.
THE PLAYERS: Red Sox chairman and co-owner Tom Werner, known for his long career as a TV producer, oversees the team’s foundation; hired last month, Rebekah Splaine Salwasser takes over as executive director in January.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Want to get involved with the largest charity in pro sports? Buy a “50/50” raffle ticket at the next game, and you—and the foundation’s worthy causes—could be the next big winner.
ANNUAL GIVING: $4.9 million
THE GOAL: Address pressing social justice issues: think healthcare in the world’s poorest communities, and educational opportunities for kids closer to home.
THE PLAYERS: A financial dream team: Charlotte Wagner, a Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Investments alum, runs the foundation with her husband, Herbert, CEO and managing partner of Finepoint Capital.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Since launching in 2005, the organization has grown with the causes it supports, going national and international as some of its favorite Boston-based nonprofits—including Year Up—have expanded.
Cedar Tree Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $4.8 million
THE GOAL: Encourage the people and organizations working on the front lines of environmental conservation and
THE PLAYERS: Launched by the late pediatrician David Smith more than two decades ago, the organization is now run by executive director Sophia Kolehmainen.
WHAT SETS IT APART: An eye toward our future green leaders: Through its Smith Fellows program, Cedar Tree helps fund postdoctoral fellowships in partnership with major academic institutions and “on the ground” conservation organizations.
Cele H. and William B. Rubin Family Fund
ANNUAL GIVING: $4.5 million
THE GOAL: Bolster local healthcare institutions, with a particular emphasis on funding research into treatments and a cure for paralysis.
THE PLAYERS: The Wellesley Hills–based fund has a long and sweet history: Founded by the late William Rubin, former president of Tootsie Roll Industries, and his late wife, Cele, it’s now overseen by their daughter, Ellen Gordon.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The recently opened Ellen R. and Melvin J. Gordon Center for the Cure and Treatment of Paralysis at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School was funded by a $5 million donation from the foundation.
Essex County Community Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $4.2 million
THE GOAL: Improve everyday life in Essex County, from Lynn to Danvers.
THE PLAYERS: President and CEO David Edwards, who took the reins in 2015, knows how to grow a philanthropy: As the founding chief executive of another community foundation in California, he turned initial seed money of $60,000 into $23 million.
WHAT SETS IT APART: A multiyear, three-phase project, dubbed Impact Essex County, will identify the biggest problems facing the region—homelessness, hunger, and addiction, among others—and eventually offer solutions with the launch of a $10 million-plus capital campaign.
Crimson Lion Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $3.9 million
THE GOAL: No real mystery here: This foundation is all about Harvard, with a smattering of support for other local universities, hospitals, and nonprofits.
THE PLAYERS: Jonathan Lavine, a co-managing partner of Bain Capital, and his wife, Jeannie, who worked at the Boston Consulting Group—both Crimson alums, naturally.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Loyal champions of their alma mater, the Lavines have helped raise hundreds of millions for the Harvard School of Public Health and donated $5 million to a program that trains humanitarian workers. Beyond Harvard Yard, they’ve contributed a million bucks to the Equal Justice Initiative, which helps cover legal fees for indigent defendants.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $3.8 million
THE GOAL: Expand healthcare access in the Bay State to those who need it most.
THE PLAYERS: President Audrey Shelto previously worked as a top exec at Blue Cross Blue Shield.
WHAT SETS IT APART: The foundation likes to spread its money around: Since 2002 it has given out 426 one-year, $5,000 “catalyst grants” to nonprofits and community organizations around the Boston area dedicated to making people healthier.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $3.8 million
THE GOAL: Get New Englanders in tip-top shape by increasing access to whole foods and quality medical care.
THE PLAYERS: Executive director and president Karen Voci previously worked for the Rhode Island Foundation, one of the country’s largest community foundations.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Voci and her team are ramping up efforts to get fresh food into the hands of needy families, in part through a fleet of traveling produce markets called Veggie Mobiles.
Henry P. Kendall Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $3.6 million
THE GOAL: Embrace the fresh, local bounty to build a more-sustainable food system.
THE PLAYERS: Named after the early-20th-century Walpole industrialist Henry Kendall, the foundation is now run by his grandson, Andrew Kendall.
WHAT SETS IT APART: After decades working on environmental concerns, the Kendall family is now making a push to realize the goal of having 50 percent of the food consumed in New England produced here.
The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $3.5 million
THE GOAL: Lift up children and families through programs that promote cultural diversity, increase educational opportunities, and more.
THE PLAYERS: The first family of Patriots Nation: team owner Robert Kraft and his sons Joshua, Jonathan, and Daniel.
WHAT SETS IT APART: From recruiting volunteers to build homes for Marines to raffling off a custom-made Super Bowl ring, the foundation is famous for engaging die-hard fans.
Boston Bruins Foundation
ANNUAL GIVING: $2.3 million
THE GOAL: Help New England’s kids meet their goals through grants to programs that focus on academics, athletics, wellness, and the community at large.
THE PLAYERS: Charlie Jacobs, son of Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, is founder and chairman; Bob Sweeney, who played 10 years in the NHL—six of them in black and gold—is executive director.
WHAT SETS IT APART: These guys know how to have fun off the ice as well as on it: In September, the annual Boston Bruins Foundation Golf Tournament featured a helicopter ball drop with a $5,000 first prize. Other charitable soirees include a casino night and harbor cruise.