Archive for the ‘Capacity Building’ Category

Surviving & Thriving in Difficult Times 10/5/17

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Recent political shifts in Washington have many wondering what the future of government funding of health and social services may look like in the months ahead.

As funders and organizations concerned about the long-term health of the region and its residents, we believe it is important that local health and social service providers begin to plan for the potential impact that these changes may have on your organization and the people you serve. To this end, we have come together with other MetroWest Area funders to jointly sponsor a special one-day seminar entitled, SURVIVING AND THRIVING IN DIFFICULT TIMES.

The purpose of this seminar is to bring agencies together to hear how those in business and industry plan for these kinds of public policy and funding shifts. This seminar will be led by Dr. Michael Cummings, Senior Lecturer in Management at Babson College. Dr. Cummings has experience across several industries including manufacturing and healthcare. His research interests are in public policy and organizational performance and survival.

The workshop is limited to 40 participants and will be held on Thursday, October 5th from 8:30am-3:30pm at the Babson Executive Conference Center.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP online. If you have questions about this seminar, please contact Rebecca Gallo.

Thanks to the MetroWest Health Foundation, Middlesex Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, Foundation for MetroWest and MetroWest Nonprofit Network for joining us in bringing this workshop to MetroWest nonprofits.

Posted on September 19, 2017.



New Grant Awards

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Children, Youth and Families (CY&F) Program Grants

ACCEPT Education Collaborative, Natick, MA, $19,200
For a marketing/communications consultation.

Bethany Hill Place, Framingham, MA, $5,000
For a strategic planning consultation.

Doc Wayne Youth Services, Boston, MA, $25,000
For a program evaluation consultation.

Family Promise Metrowest, Natick, MA, $10,000
For a strategic planning consultation.

Hoops and Homework, Framingham, MA, $16,500
For board develop and strategic planning consultations.

Jeff’s Place, Framingham, MA, $20,500
For a board development consultation.

Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, Framingham, MA, $8,500
For a board development consultation.

Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, Framingham, MA, $9,665
For staff development.

CY&F Invitation & Discretionary Grants:
Lovelane Special Needs Horseback Riding Program, Lincoln, MA, $18,200
To strategize and pilot a new way of managing herd transition.

MetroWest Legal Services, Framingham, MA, $25,000
To provide legal representation to 30-40 undocumented immigrant youth in Framingham schools to assist them in applying for and obtaining legal status and to conduct “Know Your Rights” presentations and trainings.

Sudbury Program

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury, MA, $7,500
Faculty stipends to pilot the Hub for Innovation.

Town of Sudbury/Goodnow Library, Sudbury, MA, $31,250
To purchase equipment and provide staff training as part of an extensive renovation to the Library’s second floor.

MetroWest Free Medical Program, Sudbury, MA, $1,200
To purchase equipment to create an additional exam room at the Sudbury location.

Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury & Concord Rivers, Concord, MA, $5,000
To create a report card on the health status of the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord rivers.

Sudbury United Methodist Church, Sudbury, MA, $25,000
In support of a capital campaign.

SWEET, Inc., Sudbury, MA, $545
A series of small projects to help eradicate invasive species in Sudbury.

Sudbury Historical Society, Sudbury, MA, $200,000 matching grant
Toward a capital campaign to renovate the Loring Parsonage to create a Town History Center. 

Farm & Local Food Initiative

Mass. Dept. of Transitional Assistance Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), $25,000
To support a state-level evaluation of the HIP project which enables SNAP participants to use their benefits at farmers markets, farms stands, mobile markets and CSAs.

Franklin County CDC/Fiscal Agent for the  Mass. Food System Collaborative, Greenfield, MA, $25,000
General support for the Collaborative’s work supporting the recommendations of the Mass. Local Food Action Plan.

Conservation Law Foundation/Legal Food Hub, Boston, MA, $100,000 over three years
General support for the Massachusetts work of the Legal Food Hub which provides pro bono legal assistance to farmers and food purveyors.

Community Program

Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Boston, MA, $10,000
Honorariam recognizing former trustee Sharon Driscolls’s many years of service to the Foundation.

Posted on June 15, 2017

Working with Consultants

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Brain power

Most of our capacity building grants involve working with a consultant. There’s considerable value from such collaborations including gaining a fresh perspective or specific expertise. It can be especially helpful when previous efforts have stalled or stakeholders have wildly differing points of view.

But there are an equal number of headaches as well — from the resistance of staff or board members who shun interference from outsiders to the considerable added time it takes to bring the consultant up to speed about your organization.

Is it worth it?

Yes… IF you’ve thought it through, planned ahead, allotted enough time, gotten all your stakeholders on board and, most importantly, found the consultant who “gets” your organization and has the temperament to shepherd the project and your agency’s varied personalities through the process.

That’s a lot of “ifs”  – it does make your head spin — but it’s also a realistic view of what you should be thinking about before you jump in and hire a consultant.

One thing is for sure, the consultant doesn’t do all the work. In fact, most times you and your colleagues are the ones doing the deep thinking and heavy lifting. The truth is you’re the ones with the answers. You just don’t know it yet. Consultants facilitate the process and keep you moving forward. They steer you in the right direction and make sure no one is left behind. They help you get to the heart of what you need to do and to recognize how you’re going to get there.

When the stars align, the results of working with a consultant can be quite remarkable.

There’s much more to think and read about here:

Posted on December 21, 2016

2016 Winter Grant Awards

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

images-1The following organizations received support during our September and December grant cycles. We are delighted to have them as grant partners.

Sudbury Grants

Gaining Ground, Concord, MA, $5,000
To support Gaining Ground’s work providing healthy produce to the Sudbury Community Food Pantry, and other local pantries.

Sudbury Valley Trustees, Sudbury, MA, $10,000
To develop a master landscape plan for Wolbach Farm, the agency’s headquarters.

Town of Sudbury – Council on Aging, Sudbury, MA, $18,000
To encourage residents to support their neighbors through continued funding of the Senior Volunteer Coordinator position at the Fairbank Senior Center.

Children Youth & Families (CY&F) Grants

Communities for Restorative Justice, Concord MA, $22,500
For a marketing consultation.

Employment Options, Marlborough, MA, $15,000
For a consultation to develop a computer training program for young adult clients.

Massachusetts Audubon Society/Drumlin Farm, Lincoln, MA, $19,975
A evaluation consultation to develop assessment instruments for three programs and to train staff in program evaluation best practices.

One Can Help, Newton, MA, $5,870
To work with a social media consultant for one year to develop and implement a social media communications plan.

Taly Foundation, Framingham, MA, $13,100
For a strategic planning consultation.

Wildflower Camp Foundation, Wellesley, MA, $25,000
For communications, rebranding and website consultations.

CY&F Invitation Grants

John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation, Framingham, MA, $20,000
General support during a time of transition.

Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest, Marlborough, MA, $100,000
A combination grant to support professional development and other projects.

Farm & Local Food Initiative Grants

Boston Area Gleaners, Waltham, MA, $25,000
To work with a consultant to create a customized inventory management system to expand the agency’s ability to glean and distribute local produce to food banks and food pantries.

The Carrot Project, Boston, MA, $25,000
To work with a senior fellow for one year on client coordination, tracking and evaluation.

See our 2016 spring recipients here.

Posted on December 20, 2016

Nonprofit Staff Development

Monday, June 6th, 2016

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Have you invested in your staff lately? It’s one of the most important things you can do.

Providing professional development opportunities is a great way to help your staff grow and thrive while demonstrating your commitment to them.  Here are some good resources for excellent but affordable nonprofit workshops and trainings.

Workshops & Trainings

Posted June 6, 2016

Upcoming Professional Development

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Professional development trainings are a great way to boost your skills and connect with peers. Workshops are also a way to spark new ideas and re-energize yourself and your organization.

We don’t think of professional development as a luxury but as a worthwhile investment in staff. After all, they’re what make your organization great.

Here’s a list of workshops that might be of interest to you with topics ranging from getting the most out of social media to building your board to writing an effective fundraising letter. Even better, they’re local and low-cost or no cost.

How to Promote Your Annual Appeal with Social Media

Presenter: John Hayden
Date & Time: Thursday, September 24, 8:30 am to 10:30 am
Location: Sudbury Grange Hall
Sponsor: MetroWest Nonprofit Network
Cost: $40/person

Everything You Wanted to Know About Board Governance: But Were Afraid to Ask

Presenter: Cahners & Donahue Associates
Date & Time: Tuesday, October 6, 5:30 pm
Location: TBD
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest
Cost: No charge

Why You and I Throw Away Fundraising Letters

Presenter: Rick Schwartz
Date & Time: Thursday, October 15, 9:30 am
Location: TBD
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest
Cost: No charge

Mass. Nonprofit Network Annual Conference

Wednesday, October 21 in Framingham

Building a Board that Works

Presenter: Andy Robinson
Date & Time: Thursday, November 12 in the evening; Friday, November 13 in the morning
Location: TBD
Sponsor: MetroWest Nonprofit Network
Cost: $50/person

Building a Better Board: Getting the Right People for the Job

Presenter: Cahners & Donahue Associates
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 18, 5:30 pm
Location: TBD
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest
Cost: No charge

Successful Succession Planning: Preparing for the Inevitable

Presenter: Cahners & Donahue Associates
Date & Time: Tuesday, December 15, 5:30 pm
Location: TBD
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest
Cost: No charge

Posted on September 2, 2015

Our Latest Grant Partners

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

We’re pleased to announce our grant recipients for the first half of 2015.

2015 Children, Youth & Families Program Grants:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/MetroWest, Worcester, MA $16,400
To purchase new customer relationship management software and ancillary hardware.

Doc Wayne Youth Services, Boston, MA $24,000
For a fund development consultation.

Jewish Family Service of MetroWest, Framingham, MA $9,000
To develop and install a customer relationship management database to support new performance management strategies for the fundraising department.

Nature Connection, Concord, MA $23,900
For a major gifts program consultation.

OUT MetroWest, Framingham, MA, $15,000
For a fundraising consultation.

Framingham State University Foundation, MetroWest College Planning Center, Framingham, MA $25,000
In partnership with MassBay Community College, to fund the development of strategic and marketing plans for the new MetroWest College Planning Center in Framingham and to evaluate the program after one year.

Massachusetts Audubon/Drumlin Farm, Lincoln, MA $13,675
To develop a business plan to replicate and expand after-school programming in high-need communities and to pilot a program in Hudson, MA.

Minute Man Arc, Concord, MA $5,000
For a strategic planning consultation.

Lovelane Special Needs Horseback Riding Program, Lincoln, MA $20,000
To support a major herd planning and re-building effort.

Discovery Museums, Acton MA $22,000
To fund the redesign and content redevelopment of the Museums’ website, with a focus on accessibility.

Friends of Resiliency for Life, Framingham, MA $25,000
To help pilot the expansion of the RFL program into Framingham middle schools.

John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation, Wayland, MA, $10,000
To pilot the position of Director of Strategic Partnerships for a four month period.


2015 Sudbury Program Grants:

Foundation for MetroWest, Natick, MA $45,000
Over three years, for continued support for the Sudbury Youth In Philanthropy program.

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury, MA $15,000
To help subsidize the cost of the 2016 Global Leaders Summit in The Hague.

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury, MA $9,050
To upgrade technology at the award-winning student newspaper, The Forum.

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury, MA $9,000
For a comprehensive analysis of property holdings for planning and preservation purposes.

Parmenter Foundation, Sudbury, MA $7,000
To fund the development of a stand-alone website for the Foundation as Parmenter VNA merges with Care Group Home Care.

Town of Sudbury/Selectmen’s Office, Sudbury, MA $7,500
To engage the town’s board of selectmen in a team building and strategic communications consultation.

Town of Sudbury, Sudbury, MA $7,055
To purchase an Advanced Life System (ALS) training simulator manikin that will enable enhanced training scenarios for the Fire Department’s Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technicians.

Sudbury Valley Trustees, Sudbury, MA $24,600
To support ancillary activities to enhance the recently-acquired Landham Brook Marsh conservation area (formerly known as Johnson Farm) in Sudbury.

Posted June 23, 2015

2014 Grants

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

We’re pleased to have provided financial support to the following organizations in 2014.

Children, Youth & Families Program Grants

Girls Hiking by Paul SchultzAfter School Matters

Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston, MA, $25,000
To develop a strategic business plan for the new Outdoors Rx program recently piloted in Framingham and Waltham designed to get families outdoors and enjoying nature. Learn more…

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA/MW, Worcester, MA, $25,000
For temporary development support for this mentoring agency.

Communities for Restorative Justice, Concord, MA $14,500
For a strategic planning consultation.

Danforth Art, Framingham, MA, $24,500
For a series of planning and feasibility studies in preparation for the Museum’s move to a new facility and to advance the museum’s engagement with children, youth and families.

Jeff’s Place, Framingham, MA, $25,000
For development support.

Nature Connection, Concord, MA, $25,000
For a series of capacity-building enhancements including a website update, new IT systems and the development of a social media plan for this agency which brings therapeutic nature-based programs to children and seniors with limited access to the natural world.

One Can Help, Inc., Newton, MA, $6,000
For a communications consultation for this agency which supports court-involved youth.

Start Strong: Early Learning

Infant and Toddler Children’s Center, Acton, MA $10,000
To create and launch an alumni and community outreach program designed to strengthen the agency’s scholarship program for low-income families, designed, in part, to strengthen supports for young children impacted by domestic abuse.

REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Waltham, MA $17,480
To fund a two-part project that includes development and strategic planning consultations,

The Learning Center for the Deaf, Framingham, MA $20,000
To fund an organizational marketing and rebranding initiative designed, in part, to strengthen early childhood programs.

Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, Framingham, MA $18,000
To enable staff to attend the Parenting Journey facilitators training and to research and develop a support system for grandparents raising grandchildren.

Framingham Public Library/ECAF, Framingham, MA, $15,000
To renovate space in the Framingham Children’s Library to accommodate the administrative and programming needs of the Early Childhood Alliance of Framingham.

Transitional Youth

Employment Options, Inc., Marlborough, MA $20,000
To fund two consultations to improve recruitment and program assessment for the Cooking Up a Career program.

MassBay Community College, Framingham, MA $25,000
To fund a needs assessment and market study to determine best approaches for developing a “Youth in Transition” college success model and establishing a “Gateway to College” program.

Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce, Inc., Marlborough, MA $25,000
For a marketing and communications consultation to help build awareness of the new website, designed to support at-risk youth and young adults in their search for employment.

Invitation Program Grants

Assabet Valley Collaborative/Family Success Partnership, Marlborough, MA, $24,750
For a data audit, wraparound case law research study, and marketing consultation for this wraparound program that supports children with borderline mental health issues.

Boys and Girls Clubs of MetroWest, Marlborough, MA, $53,825
To upgrade technology at the Marlborough administrative headquarters and conduct a study on the future of the Computer Labs at each club location. Learn more…

Discovery Museums, Acton, MA, $150,000
Over three-years, to develop, design and construct the Brain Building Zone exhibit and gallery, geared to children and families age 0-5. Learn more.

Boys & Girls Club of Assabet Valley, Maynard, MA $20,000
For a facilities study.

Sudbury Program Grants

Community Building Grants

Gaining Ground, Inc., Concord, MA $5,000
To support Gaining Ground’s work providing healthy produce to the Sudbury Community Food Pantry, and other local pantries.

MetroWest Legal Services, Framingham, MA, $2,500
To support MWLS’s work in Sudbury in the coming year.

Town of Sudbury, Sudbury, MA, $5,000
To help fund Sudbury Celebrates 375th Field Day, the final event in a yearlong celebration of the town’s 375th anniversary.

Organizational Capacity & Effectiveness Grants
Goodnow Library Foundation, Sudbury, MA, $75,000
Over two years, for development and marketing support.

SMILE Mass, Inc., Sudbury, MA $5,000
To expand the agency’s beach wheelchair loaner program for use at lakes and ponds in MetroWest and the direct loaner equipment program to area residents.

Sudbury Community Food Pantry, Sudbury, MA, $500
To purchase a computer to be used for financial/accounting purposes.

Sudbury Historical Society, Sudbury, MA, $150,000
Over three years, to fund the agency’s first full-time executive director.

Sudbury, Wayland, Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable, Sudbury, MA, $2,000
For a website upgrade.

Town of Sudbury – Council on Aging, Sudbury, MA $18,000
To encourage residents to support their neighbors through continued funding of the Senior Volunteer Coordinator position at the Fairbank Senior Center.

Youth Development & Opportunity Grant
Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury MA, $7,500
Start-up support for CRANE (Community Resource and Awareness Network of Sudbury and Lincoln), a parent/community group addressing teen behavioral issues through education and resource information.

Preservation of Community Character & Assets Grant
Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury, MA, $100,000
To restore and repaint the exterior of the historic Inn.

Photo courtesy of Paul Schultz
Posted on December 16, 2014

Pro Bono Consulting Available

Monday, December 1st, 2014

large_SOAR-LOGO-BWCould your nonprofit use the help of highly-skilled pro bono consultants to become more focused, efficient, and effective? Is there a project you are postponing because you lack the time and resources to make it happen?

SOAR 55 is currently accepting requests from local nonprofit organizations that would benefit from the pro bono management consulting services.

SOAR 55, part of a national network of volunteer programs, has mobilized adults age 55 and over to contribute their skills and experience to help strengthen and expand the capacity of area nonprofit organizations for over 40 years.  Since 2006, the SOAR 55 Nonprofit Management Consulting Group Program has assisted over 50 local nonprofits and has trained more than 100 qualified volunteers to provide important management tools such as strategic, business/program, and marketing plans, needs assessments, and with other management supports that have helped organizations become more efficient and effective. Consultants are experienced professionals who also receive over 60 hours of training and are equipped with the depth of knowledge, well-honed skills, and time availability, so critical to project success.

For more information and to request a consultation, visit the new website at to find out more.

Posted December 1, 2014

Technology Re-Boot

Thursday, November 13th, 2014


Pictured left: Boys & Girls Clubs of Metrowest (B&GCMW) staff member Lauren Confort is hard at work at one of the new workstations the B&GCMW received as part of a Sudbury Foundation grant.

For many agencies, keeping up with technology advances  — especially in conjunction with agency growth – is a challenge. At some point, a major overhaul is required.

That’s just what happened at the Marlborough-based B&GCMW. A one-time capacity building grant enabled B&GCMW to work with a consultant to assess their needs, purchase and install new equipment and train staff. The project featured upgrades to hardware, software and networking that will impact the agency’s communications, fundraising, program development, and financial capabilities.

“The new systems are great – faster, running current software and eliminating a number of daily processing issues we had been facing,” said Fran Hurley, B&GCMW president. “It’s been a boon to staff morale as well, eliminating the frustration of slow connections and the inability to perform certain functions.”

The final component of the grant will allow the consultant to study how to best update and upgrade the Computers Labs at each of the three Club locations – Marlborough, Hudson and Framingham. Club members of all ages use the labs after school for study and play. Most of the equipment at the Clubs is due for an update but first B&GCMW wants to consider new alternatives based on changing technology and trends, like the use of Chromebooks in Marlborough Public Schools. Looking toward the future, the research study will provide recommendations for state-of-the-art computer labs and address the tricky question of facility-wide wi-fi access to accommodate the increased use of Chromebooks and other devices.

B&GCMW currently serves 3,500 youth age 6 through 18 at its three area locations.

Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metrowest.

Posted on November 12, 2014