Announcing $19.2 Million in New Grants and Increased Grantmaking for 2016

Jim Canales reports on the Barr Foundation’s final grants awarded in 2015 and an increased grants budget for 2016.

Earlier this month at our final board meeting of the year, Barr’s trustees approved 21 grants totaling $16.7 million and ratified an additional $2.5 million in grants approved during the fourth quarter. Below we provide a summary of these new commitments.

I am also pleased to announce that Barr’s grants budget for 2016 will increase to $70 million (from just over $52 million in grants approved during 2015). This significant increase stems from our enthusiasm for the new strategies we will share publicly in the weeks ahead, and from our commitment to devote the necessary resources to advance these aspirational and exciting plans.

As you review the summary of grants below, you may also note that a number of them make manifest our decision to adopt a more regional approach to Barr’s work, with some targeted national grantmaking as well. Anticipating a nearly 35% increase in our grants budget for 2016, we are in the fortunate position to pursue opportunities over an expanded geography, even as we sustain our deep commitment to our home city of Boston. Indeed, new grants from this quarter alone include a mix of local, regional, and national efforts, including:

In Arts & Culture, Barr awarded five grants totaling $4.9 million. A common theme among them is transforming place by connecting art and community, with support for ArtPlace America, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Inc.’s public art program, and Yard, Inc.

In Climate, Barr awarded seven grants totaling $2.5 million. These include support for three organizations working with business leaders to advance clean energy and climate action: A Better City Initiative, Inc., The Alliance for Business Leadership, and Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy. Two grants are intended to deepen exploration into novel ways for modernizing Greater Boston’s transportation system and improving the rider experience: the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy will focus on the potential of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT); and A Better City Initiative, Inc. will study the feasibility of a single payment method people could use throughout the MBTA system and other regional transit systems in Massachusetts.

In Education, Barr awarded four grants totaling $7.4 million. A $5-million grant to Year Up, Inc. will help the organization refine and expand its proven training program that aims to close the opportunity divide by connecting urban young adults to both educational and career opportunities, offering multiple pathways to success.

In Global, Barr awarded three grants totaling $360,000 as part of efforts to ensure the responsible and thoughtful conclusion of the Foundation’s Global program.

We invite you to explore these and all of the grants awarded this quarter through our online grants database.

We began 2015 by introducing Barr’s new mission statement: to invest in human, natural, and cultural potential serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. We close the year nearly finished with the planning we initiated soon thereafter, to identify the focused priorities we will pursue to advance that mission in the years to come. With Leah Hamilton’s contribution last week for the Education team, we brought to a close our blog series on strategic planning, which we have used to shed light on our process. Now we look forward to sharing the results with you in the new year, with continued gratitude for the many partners we are privileged to support.

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