2009 Report on Foundation Activities

The year 2009 presented special challenges to the Shapiro Family Foundation. Having suffered a significant loss of its assets to the fraudulent investment practices of Bernard Madoff in late 2008, the Foundation suspended all new grant making activities in 2009. However, in the face of this difficult circumstance, it made two commitments to its grantees: 1) It would continue to pay on all current grant agreements; and 2) It would undertake special efforts to reach out to its community-based grantees to offer support “beyond the grant”.

In 2009, the Foundation made grants totaling $12,967,599 to 65 organizations. Almost half of the 2009 grantees were community-based organizations that received funding through one of the Foundation’s four strategic grant initiatives. This included 13 colleges that received scholarship support for students through the Foundation’s College Scholarship Initiative. The largest category of support was for capital projects where the Foundation has several current commitments to Boston area hospitals, and educational and cultural institutions.

The Foundation convened a cross-section of its community-based grantees through four meetings early in the year to solicit ideas on how it might help them outside of giving grant money. An online survey followed and a work plan was developed to deliver on several of the ideas presented. Among the activities undertaken by the Foundation were the issuing of 4 “bulletins” on topics identified by the grantees, such as finding college interns and information technology resources for nonprofits. Foundation staff also provided on-on-one assistance in reviewing proposals to be submitted to other funders, and three workshops were offered. One workshop, geared to youth-serving organizations, was presented as a two-part series on evaluation and included the opportunity for follow-up customized technical assistance. The topics for the other workshops were how to make your web site more effective and performance management. The latter allowed a group of grantees, all of whom serve women who have experienced domestic violence, to come together for a full day of learning.

While 2009 was atypical in terms of how the Foundation operated, it provided the opportunity for the Foundation to reflect on its work and to try some new things. We expect that this experience will have an impact on our work as we move forward in helping to address important needs in the communities we serve.

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