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The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

Grants by Racial Justice

An Assessment of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts’ Grantmaking Portfolio

Using a Racial Justice Lens

Annual Assessment 2000-2014

(as of 9.19.14)

In 2009 the Applied Research Center and the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity published the Catalytic Change: Lessons Learned from Racial Justice Grantmaking Assessment, Appendix 3: Assessing Our Grantmaking for Its Racial Justice Potential.  Using that tool to assess The Health Foundation’s (THF) grantmaking (from 2000-September 2014) with regard to “racial justice,” these key findings resulted:

  • THF has funded 6:16 (38%) of the applications received from “organizations of color;”

This ratio remained the same from 2013-2014 because no new applications were received from “organizations of color.”


  • THF has funded 34:75 (45%) of the applications received from “organizations located in & serving  communities of color;”

This ratio declined slightly from 47% in 2013 because the total number of applications increased.

  • THF has funded 39:82 (48%) of its grants to “organizations of color” and “organizations located in & serving communities of color.”  The grants to these 39 organizations total $18.8 M (68%) of THF’s total grantmaking of $27.8 M.

     These ratios remained stable from 2012 to 2014.


The recent loss of two “organizations of color,” the Henry Lee Willis Community Center in 2013 and the merger of the MLK Business Empowerment Center with SMOC in 2012, reduces the number of “organizations of color” that might receive grants from the Foundation in the future and impacts this assessment.  For example, the Willis Center was the lead agency for the WISR Synergy Initiative project, and Advocates, Inc. has now assumed that lead role.  Thus, a significant grant has shifted from an “organization of color” to an “organization located in and serving communities of color,” while the population served remains the same.   In addition, the Ready, Willing and Able Activation Fund grant that was made in 2012, also was counted in the category of “organizations located in and serving communities of color” because it was made to SMOC with MLK-BEC administering the grant for SMOC. 

It is important to note that the population of Worcester County is 80% white and that THF has intentionally sought to place funds throughout the region, including for example a Synergy Initiative project in Winchendon which is more than 90% white.   Thus, the decision to fund communities throughout the region also impacts the results of this assessment. 

It is also important to recall that in developing the Foundation’s avenues for grantmaking (i.e., Activation Fund and Synergy Initiative), the Board determined that THF’s grants should be of a substantive size (as compared to the $10-15,000 grants being made by most donors including the Greater Worcester Community Foundation) in order for THF to add the most value or impact in the region.  That decision was made with the understanding that small, grassroots organizations would likely not have the capacity to manage $50,000+ grants, and that grassroots organizations should therefore be encouraged to work with larger organizations in seeking grants from THF. This approach has been maintained by the Board throughout the Foundation’s 14-year history of grantmaking. 

Click on the following links to learn more:

Grants Awarded Based on Racial Justice Categories

Grant Amount Awarded Based on Racial Justice Categories

Applications Declined Based on Racial Justice Categories

Worcester County Census - 2012 Race Data