Once upon a time ...
In 1996, to be exact, four New England foundations met to examine environmental priorities in New England. Their conclusion was:
“for the New England environmental movement to succeed, the New England environmental movement must project a broad and compelling vision that will persuade large numbers of people that they are stakeholders in the formidable effort to build a sustainable future. This effort must begin at the local level. If environmental protection is imposed upon people, we will surely fail. But if it is accomplished with, for, and because of people, we may succeed…”
The participating funders recognized their limits – not enough staff resources and extensive grant application processes that neither reached nor attracted local level community groups to their foundations. In order to extend and fine tune their philanthropic efforts a different kind of funding structure was needed to offer proactive, professional grantmaking, skills-building and networking opportunities to support the needs of emerging volunteer-based organizations and leaders. The New England Grassroots Environment Fund (Grassroots Fund) was created and till this day remains one of very few organizations focused on the local level, reaching across issues and across state boundaries, breaking across issue silos and offering network support to local New England initiatives.
Grassroots Fund is both a Funders/Activists’ Collaborative and a Community Network Builder. Our mission is: to energize and nurture long-term civic engagement in local initiatives that create and maintain healthy, just, safe and environmentally sustainable communities.
Since its inception, the Grassroots Fund has built up a core grantmaking program that has funded over 1,700 different community groups located in over 50% of New England’s cities and towns, putting over $4 million directly into these communities. Through Seed grants (up to $1,000 for newly formed projects) and Grow grants (ranging between $1,000 and $3,500 for more established groups), we continue to invest in constituencies from rural, suburban and urban areas, working on a wide range of projects building community resilience across the region.