To best assist communities throughout the Commonwealth now reeling from the challenges of covid-19, The Lenny Zakim Fund has fast-tracked its annual grant-making process and delivered $576,000 to 56 community nonprofit organizations working at bridging inequities throughout Massachusetts, including several in Boston, according to a press release.
Boston grant recipients in the Child and Youth Development and Education category include BalletRox, which provides year-round dance programs for Boston Public Schools students; the Chica Project, a nonprofit that operates in Boston, Lynn and Lawrence to empower Latinas and other women of color; Empowering People of Inclusive Communities, a Boston- and Worcester-based nonprofit that engages people with disabilities; Families Creating Together, a nonprofit that provides multicultural, multilingual, intergenerational programs in the arts for children of all abilities and their families; Institute for Pan African Cultural Education; Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts; One Space Our Place, a nonprofit that offers elementary, middle and high school students who are legally blind the opportunities to participate in team sports, the arts, community service and mentoring; PieRSquared, which offers free math tutoring to students of all ages; and Sibling Connections, a nonprofit foster care service that operates in Boston and statewide.
In the Access to Food, Housing and Economic Security category, Boston grant recipients included the Boston Affordable Housing Coalition; and Sitters without Borders, a nonprofit that offers free and low-cost evening babysitting services to low-income parents attending college in the Greater Boston area.
Boston grant recipients in the Organizing and Support for Immigrants and Refugees category includes the African Bridge Network, the East Boston-based Center for Cooperative Development and Immigrant Family Services Center.
In the Violence Prevention, Criminal Justice Reform and Family Outreach category, Boston grant recipients included Saheli, which operates in Burlington and Greater Boston; and We Are Better Together.
Boston grant recipients in the Health Promotion and Accessibility for All category included Greater Boston-based Adaptive Sports New England; Autism Sprinter; Hands to Heart Center – Yoga for the People; and Resilient Sisterhood Project (Boston), while Greater Boston-based SpeakOUT Boston was a grant recipient in the LGBTQIA Community Support and Organizing category
“The global pandemic and our new normal has laid bare the structural inequities that exist in our society,” LZF Executive Director Eric Esteves said in a press release. “As we consider our 25-year legacy as an organization focused on social, racial, and economic justice, we must continue to listen to those closest to the problems and support them as they implement solutions. LZF aids those who demonstrate the will and potential to make a difference – but may lack the necessary resources. These resources have suddenly become more urgent than ever before.”
For 25 years, The Lenny Zakim Fund has been committed to identifying, listening to, and supporting grassroots community organizations operating “below the radar screen” of many large charitable and government funding sources. Grant recipients include community-based organizations providing services in diverse ways within a variety of very vulnerable populations. This year, more than half of the organizations receiving LZF grants are led by people of color.
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Fund has more than doubled its pool of emergency grants to $56,000 thus far, with the goal of raising at least $100,000 more in order to increase its ability to support grassroots community organizations in the coming weeks and months.
The fund has identified both current and former grant recipients who are worried about the programs they have had to suspend or cancel, funds lost, balancing critical staffing decisions, and the vulnerable individuals/families they serve who are now even more isolated and at-risk, according to Esteves.
“We do not know how long this uncertainty will last, but what I do know is that small, grassroots organizations are even more important now than ever to the communities they serve,” Esteves stated.