By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Building community, according to Judy Salerno, executive director of the Foundation for Metrowest, is the ultimate goal of its Southborough Community Fund (SCF). With a fast-approaching deadline – Friday, Sept. 11, at 5 p.m. – the SCF is seeking grant applications from registered nonprofits and town organizations operating in Southborough. The SCF will, “support programs that increase volunteerism and community involvement, strengthen civic engagement, and emphasize collaborations that enhance community initiatives.”
To be considered, grants must fall into three categories, which the SCF calls family and human services/support, arts and culture, and environment. The SCF will support “projects of exceptional merit” with funding levels from $1,000 to $10,000, and possibly $20,000. Salerno noted that projects that were funded last year could reapply as long as they are current in their grant reports. Public schools are considered a town organization.
Last year the SCF awarded $30,000 to 10 grant applicants.
“Last year’s inaugural program was just a start and barely scratched the surface of meeting the growing needs in our community,” said SCF Board chair Tom Crotty. “This year, the Southborough Community Board is proud to say we have the opportunity to make double the impact and our hope is that Southborough serving nonprofits and town agencies recognize that we’re here to support them.”
Started in 1995, the foundation serves 33 communities that spread from Carlisle in the north, Milford in the south, Westborough in the west, and Dedham in the east. Only Southborough and two other communities, Lexington and Wellesley, have their own community funds. The foundation has several other grant programs, which cover all the communities that they serve, including Southborough.
“We promote philanthropy in the region, help donors maximize the impact of their local giving, serve as a resource for local nonprofits and enhance the quality of life for all our residents,” according the foundation website. “Since inception, the foundation has granted $10 million to charitable organizations and currently stewards more than $15 million in charitable assets for current needs and future impact.”
Two Southborough residents sit on the foundation’s board: Garry Holmes, its chair, and Crotty. Last year, Crotty recruited six other Southborough residents to form the SCF Board, which functions with the oversight and support of the foundation’s board. Together these seven members donated $30,000, which kick-started the effort.
Now in its second year, the SCF Board has grown to nine members, including Crotty, Betsy Crowley, John Fodor, Karen Gadbois, Noreen Reilly Harrington, Cathy Kea, Elizabeth Wetherbee Klein, Mary McGuinness and Robin Martin. They have increased their funding level through personal donations, and a successful town-wide appeal that took place at the end of last year after the 2014 grants cycle.
Salerno explained the relationship between the foundation and the SCF.
“We give Southborough the infrastructure and resources to do good grant making we enable [the SCF] to focus on what they want to do,” she said.
She explained that among many activities, the foundation allows the SCF to accept charitable contributions, provide outreach to the community, vet applicants, conduct site visits and manage the grants once they are awarded.
Salerno cited the six-year-old “Fund for Wellesley” as an example of successful community building.
“Grant making that has been done in that community has enabled them to take on a project for which there had never been the resources – a volunteer driver program – that’s a project that got started very early on is now funded by town,” she said.
For more information on the SCF grants and application, contact Mary Crowley at [email protected] or 508-647-2260.