Comparing Financial Aid Offers

Financial aid offers are not all alike. Here’s some good advice from a college senior and intern at the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office on how to read and compare aid packages before you decide which school to attend. 

It’s worth a look: 4 Steps to Understanding and Comparing Financial Aid.

Posted on 3/6/17

Working with Consultants

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”  – and 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 about and read about here:

Posted on December 21, 2016

2016 Winter Grant Awards

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

Poverty Beyond City Limits

poverty-clip-art-071510-vector-clip-art-free-clipart-images-UlGIVg-clipart copyMetroWest Funders and others: Please join us for a follow up conversation with Steve Pratt from Impact Catalysts (formerly with Root Cause) on poverty in the suburbs.

While still invisible to many, poverty in suburban communities is on the rise, including our communities in MetroWest.

Steve will share findings from his most recent work based in the Greater Washington DC area.  He will compare this geography with MetroWest’s, highlight some key catalysts for change and discuss potential action steps we as funders and donors can take to reduce poverty in our local communities.

Presenter: Steve Pratt, Impact Catalysts
Date: January 11, 2017
Time: Noon to 2:00 pm
Location: The Sudbury Foundation/Grange Hall, 326 Concord Road, Sudbury, MA
Sponsor: Associated Grant Makers

To register, click here.

Posted November 30, 2016


Upcoming Professional Development Workshops


Why not take advantage of some of these local workshops this spring with topics ranging from social media to effective leadership to speech writing?

Building the Model Relationship with your Executive Director Presenter: Charles B. Gordon, The New Kensington Group
Date & Time: Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Morse Institute Library, 14 East Central Street, Natick
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest


Crafting Public Remarks – How to Write a Good Speech
Presenter: Sheri Saginor
Date & Time: Thursday, April 13, 2017, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Cary Memorial Library, 1874 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington
Sponsor: Nonprofit Net

Marketing and Communications: Getting the Right Message to the Right People
Presenter: Marjorie Bauer
Date & Time: Thursday, May 11, 2017, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Cary Memorial Library, 1874 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington
Sponsor: Nonprofit Net

Overcoming Barriers to Effective Leadership – How Board Chairs and Executive Directors Can Lead as a Star Team
Presenter: Charles B. Gordon, The New Kensington Group
Date & Time: Thursday, May 18, 2017, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Foundation for MetroWest, 3 Eliot Street, Natick
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest

Online Awareness Campaigns for your Nonprofit – What Works and How to Do It!
Presenter: Julia Campbell, J Campbell Social Marketing
Date & Time: Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Framingham Public Library, McAuliffe Branch, 746 Water St., Framingham
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest

Management and Accountability: Motivating Your Board to Action
Presenter: Charles B. Gordon, The New Kensington Group
Date & Time: Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Morse Institute Library, 14 East Central Street, Natick
Sponsor: Foundation for MetroWest

Updated March 27,  2017

Sudbury Nonprofit Coffee 10/27

coffee cup,jpgPlease join your Sudbury nonprofit colleagues for coffee & conversation on Thursday, October 27 at 9:30 a.m. at our meeting space on the second floor of the Grange Hall.

We’ve been hosting this gathering twice a year since 2013. It’s a chance to update us on what your nonprofit or community group has been up to, to hear what others are doing, to learn and to share. We look forward to seeing you. New organizations always welcome!

Please RSVP by Oct. 24:

Posted on September 19, 2016

MA and its Farms Need Rain

drought-11740Massachusetts is experiencing its worst drought in more than a decade, with little reprieve in sight for dry rivers, thirsty crops, and water bans across the state. Farmers are trying to be creative, despite the heat. You can read up on it here:

Baker tours farms impacted by drought-filled summer

How This Summer’s ‘Severe’ Drought Is Affecting Mass. Farmers And Their Crops

Did the overnight rainfall help with the drought?

Posted on August 23, 2016

Off to College: A Momentous Change for Mom & Dad

beckhamBeverly Beckham’s wonderful 2006 Boston Globe essay on sending a child off to college remains true and heartfelt today. The Globe reprints it around this time every year. If you’re a parent who has just dropped your Freshman off at school, pull out your hankie. It’s worth reading:

Posted on August 23, 2016

Brainstorming: Thinking about Kids


Early Learners

How investing in Preschool Beats the Stock Market, Hands Down. Nobel laureate James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development, makes a strong argument to support early education programs in his paper, The Life-Cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program.

11 Parenting Podcasts Worth Checking Out. Parenting: It’s the most important job of all and there’s no roadmap for how to do it best. Some good resources provided in this Washington Post article.

Read Aloud 15 Minutes. In an era of high-stakes testing and education reforms and revolutions, research has repeatedly proved that one simple parenting technique is among the most effective. Children who are read aloud to by parents get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared.

The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland.  While American youngsters learn how to read, Kindergarten students in Finland play. Notes one researcher: “There isn’t any solid evidence that shows that children who are taught to read in kindergarten have any long-term benefit from it.” Food for thought.

Run-down schools trigger low test scores. Common sense says it’s so. (We’ve been saying it for years.) Now Cornell social scientists show why it’s true.

Teens & Young Adults

The Value of Mentoring. Whether formal or informal — mentoring is a powerful tool to keep young people on the right track, particularly kids who are disconnected from their community

Today’s College Students May Be Emotionally Unprepared. Findings confirm what we all know is happening. A survey of more than 123,000 students at 153 colleges by the American College Health Association in 2013 found that more than half experienced overwhelming anxiety and about a third felt deep depression during the academic year, as reported in the New York Times. Here’s one program that’s helping high school teens cope: Students returning to school after a serious mental health issue get the care they need thru “BRYT

The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much. Interesting findings reported in the New York Times. It’s not due to cuts in public funding but an increase in enrollment and administrative personnel.

The Cost of An Overdose. Facing the opiod-heroin crisis in MetroWest. In 2015 emergency personnel statewide responded to 11,884 opioid-related incidents, up from 6,315 in 2013.

Posted on July 25, 2016

2016 Spring Grant Awards

innovationWe’re pleased to have provided financial support to the following organizations during our March and June grant cycles.

Children, Youth & Family Grants:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of CM/MW, Worcester, MA, $25,000
For a series of fundraising consultations/enhancements.

Birthday Wishes, Inc., Newton, MA, $4,750
To build a Volunteer Party Coordinator portal on the website.

The Discovery Museums, Acton, MA, $6,200
For strategic planning related to the new Discovery Woods outdoor play space.

Doc Wayne Youth Services, Inc., Boston, MA, $25,000
For development support.

The Learning Center for the Deaf,Framingham, MA, $10,000
For a fundraising/board training consultation.

OUT MetroWest, Framingham, MA, $10,000
For a board development consultation.

Resiliency for Life, Framingham, MA, $10,000
For a staff training consultation.

SPARK Kindness, Natick, MA, $20,600
For a two-phase strategic planning consultation.

Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, Framingham, MA, $5,000
For a staff development project.

Sudbury Grants:

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury, MA $12,000
To help subsidize travel costs for the Global Student Summit to Turin, Italy in June, 2017.

Farm & Local Food Initiative Grants:

Franklin County CDC/Fiscal Agent for MA Food System Collaborative, Greenfield, MA, $25,000
General support for the Collaborative to implement the MA Local Food Action Plan.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, S. Deerfield, MA, $25,000
For an outreach and communications project.

Conservation Law Foundation, Boston, MA, $25,000
To expand and enhance the work of the Legal Services Food Hub in Massachusetts.

Mill City Grows, Lowell, MA $25,000
To design and build outdoor education centers at each of MCG’s two urban farms.

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Lowell, MA $25,000
To extend a strategic planning consultation in order to implement the fundraising recommendations of the strategic plan.

Posted June 22, 2016