We are one of the nation's oldest and largest community foundations. More than that, we are a center of overlapping partnerships and networks—of talented, generous, thoughtful and dedicated people—working together to make life better for everyone in our region.
Total grants made since 1915
Assets under management
Total grants made since 2001 alone
Since 1915, the Boston Foundation has served as the major philanthropy for Boston. Did you know that the Boston Foundation has provided early seed funding to more than 100 nonprofits and innovative ideas?
In 1915, on the brink of America’s entry into World War I, the Boston Foundation was launched by a father and son team, Charles E. and Charles M. Rogerson. In 1917, the first donor, James Longley, left a bequest of $4 million, giving the Foundation the resources to be the first community foundation to make grants. Through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the polio epidemic and other challenges, funding responded to the needs of poor immigrants and other struggling Bostonians.
In 1960, the Foundation received a surprise bequest of $20 million from Boston financier Albert Stone, transforming it into a major force for change. It began seed funding new ideas and nonprofits in the context of the large social justice movements of the day, making profound contributions to education, health, housing, jobs and the arts. In the 1980s and 1990s, it launched anti-poverty initiatives, attracted new donors and changed the Foundation’s structure to put it on firm footing for the future.
In 2001, Paul S. Grogan became President and CEO and began changing the game by transforming the Boston Foundation into a major civic leader. Accomplishments include millions of public dollars for the state’s cultural facilities and key legislative reform in the areas of public education, municipal health care, housing and community colleges. Today, through its grant making and other work, the Foundation continues to respond to need, seed innovation and change the game—all while working closely with hundreds of donors.
With the arrival of M. Lee Pelton as the President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, TBF has begun to undertake a strategic shift, Our New Pathway, which puts equity at the center of everything we do. Building upon our legacy of civic leadership work and the lessons of the 'triple pandemic' of COVID-19, the economic devastation it caused and the structural and systemic racial injustices it laid bare, Our New Pathway guides us to repair past harms, support leaders and organizations working closest to our most challenging issues, and approach our work in partnership with communities, not for them.Learn more
“We must be bold, courageous, and even daring, in leveraging our remarkable history and continuing to be deeply rooted in and connected to human experience and endeavor.”
“Our aspirations cannot be realized without donning a racial equity lens and valuing all lived experiences in the allocation of our time and resources.”