Past Grants

Posted on June 20th, 2017

Impact Stories

Posted on November 19th, 2019

Read Impact Stories here.

Grantee Spotlight: Mill City Grows

Posted on November 19th, 2019

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation spotlights grantees who have taken intentional and concrete steps in becoming more equitable and inclusive. With the understanding that no organization has “made it,” our goal is to inspire others with practical examples of progress.

Sowing Seeds: Food Justice

Mill City Grows (MCG) is a nonprofit in Lowell, MA that promotes food justice by providing access to and education about local food.

Founded in 2011, MCG serves approximately 15,000 Lowell residents through community and school gardens, urban farming, mobile markets, grassroots organizing and educational programming.

Mill City Grows has developed a strong foundation of inclusion by involving the community in the development of its programming. The organization recognizes it has room to grow in reflecting Lowell’s diverse communities and seeks to expand its board and staff accordingly.

Spreading Roots: Community Involvement in Decision Making

Over the years, Mill City Grows has built its decision-making processes around community needs and values. Program staff engages community members through outreach and community meetings to locate and design local gardens. Residents identify culturally significant crops to incorporate into urban farms and co-design educational programs with MCG staff, taking the lead role as educators.

Moreover, Mill City Grows is currently in the planning phase for a new Market Garden program which will create space and resources for refugee and immigrant growers while providing communities with traditional foods. For the pilot program, gardeners will have access to a plot of land to cultivate traditional Mexican crops which will then be sold through MCG’s existing market network. MCG has formed a community advisory group to evaluate the program and to develop a plan for continuation if the pilot is successful.

Mill City Grows intentionally chose a high level of community involvement in this program development, rather than a strictly data-based or staff-led process. MCG’s experience indicates that this method leads to better outcomes, community buy-in, and a program model which meets the needs of participants and the wider community.

MCG seeks change on a larger scale through institutional partnerships with the Lowell Community Health Center, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, UMass Lowell, Lowell Public Schools and other local organizations. Through these collaborations, Mill City Grows is able to reach a wider audience, avoid duplicate efforts, and consolidate resources to deliver new programs such as specialized markets or “food as medicine” farm shares that meet the needs of diverse residents.

Digging DeepMaking Equity and Inclusion a Top Priority

For organizations interested in learning more about equity and inclusion, Mill City Grows’ experience points to key elements:

  • Hire from the community — Reflect the culture and language of program participants
  • Consider accessibility — Language, time of day, and physical surroundings are barriers to participation in programs
  • Listen actively — Involve all levels of board and staff in open conversations
  • Be persistent — Take time to intentionally discuss equity and inclusion, touching the ‘third rail’ of class and race, even if things get uncomfortable. Build in such discussions in board meetings, staff meetings, program evaluations, and other spaces where decisions are made
  • Diversify leadership — Expand the board or use board vacancies to add members who have experienced the challenges your organization is trying to address (e.g. food insecurity) 

About Mill City Grows

Mill City Grows’ mission is to foster food justice by improving physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally grown food, and education. The organization was born out of community needs, specifically 1) to revitalize vacant lots and parks across the City to create safe, attractive, and functional green spaces and 2) to provide access to affordable, nutritious produce as there were not enough full-service grocers in Lowell neighborhoods. Mill City Grows programming instills in the community a deeper understanding of how to access affordable, fresh, healthy food, where food comes from, and how eating healthy food impacts residents’ overall health and well-being.

About the Parker Foundation’s Equity and Inclusion Initiative

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation favors applications from organizations with balanced representation in staff and management, reflecting constituents served and the diverse community that Lowell has become. In celebration of the Foundation’s new equity and inclusion initiative, Parker staff Chaletta Huertas and Elizabeth Drewry interviewed a number of grantees to highlight the extraordinary work they are doing to create a more diverse organization that represents the Lowell area’s breadth of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The Parker Foundation is grateful to Mill City Grows’ Jessica Wilson and Lydia Sisson for their time in crafting this grantee spotlight.

Parker Foundation Board Names Three Lowell Residents as Advisors

Posted on June 12th, 2019

Lowell MA: May 30, 2019   Theodore Edson Parker Foundation announces the appointment of three new Lowell advisors, residents Maria Cunha, Ben Opara, and Vladimir Saldana, who will serve for a two-year term in an advisory capacity to the foundation’s board until 2021.

Parker President Newell Flather made the announcement of the appointment following the Spring Board of Trustees meeting, and said, “I am very pleased that these outstanding individuals have agreed to join us, and provide their insights, knowledge, and experience about organizations serving Lowell.  They will expand our deliberations in making grants. In particular, each advisor reflects our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the most important value of the current board. Their advice and counsel will greatly inform our processes.”

Maria Cunha

Born in the Azores and coming to Lowell with her family in 1967, Maria quickly learned English and excelled in the Lowell Public Schools, receiving a scholarship to Regis College, being the first in her family to attend and graduate college. For over 30 years, she has supported immigrants and refugees in Lowell through her work at the International Institute, Congressman Meehan’s district office and as an administrator at Middlesex Community College.

Benjamin T. Opara

Ben owns and operates Duziem Labs, Inc., a manufacturer of personal care products. He serves as vice president of the Lowell Pan African Association and is co-founder of the African Cultural Festival which has been thriving for 19 years. Ben earned a degree in engineering from the University of Nigeria, and, after immigrating to the USA in 1990, earned a Master of Science in engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He and his wife have lived in Lowell for 28 years; they have three children.

Vladimir Saldana

A native of the Dominican Republic, Vlad moved to Lowell when he was 10, speaking only Spanish, but quickly adapting in the Lowell Public Schools and achieving the AA in Science from Middlesex Community College, and the BS in Finance and Management from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.  In addition to raising funds for rural Rwanda, he chairs Fortaleza, a broad based community group to advocate for equal educational opportunities for Lowell’s Latino students and their families. In his day job, he manages community outreach for Congresswoman Lori Trahan in the northern part of the third district.

About the Parker Foundation, Lowell MA

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker of Lowell. Since the late 1980s the foundation has focused its grantmaking in Lowell, which is home to the second largest Cambodian American population in the United States. The Parker board includes Newell Flather, President; Karen H. Carpenter, Vice President; David W. Donahue Jr., Treasurer; Sophy Theam, Clerk; and Luis M. Pedroso.  In 2018, the foundation made grant payments of $1,000,000 in charitable contributions. For a complete list of recipients, visit parkerfoundation.gmafoundations.com

Grantee Spotlight: Lowell Community Health Center

Posted on December 13th, 2018

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation spotlights grantees who have taken intentional and concrete steps in becoming more equitable and inclusive. With the understanding that no organization has “made it,” our goal is to inspire others with practical examples of progress.

Equity & Inclusion Is a Journey

Lowell Community Health Center (CHC) is a community-based health care provider that serves more than 50,000 people in Greater Lowell— roughly one out of every two Lowell residents.  Since its inception almost 50 years ago, the Health Center has focused on serving the many communities of Lowell. In recent years the organization’s leadership realized that in order to fully serve these communities—even as demographics shifted—the various groups must be represented throughout the entire operation, including board and staff.

Lowell CHC has achieved notable results on its journey toward greater equity and inclusion. The transition has been a long-term process through which the organization left no level of operations unanalyzed.

Focus on People

The Health Center has sought funding for a number of initiatives aimed at its own team, such as equity-focused leadership retreats and all-staff trainings on culturally appropriate care. It accessed resources from Seattle’s Cross Cultural Health Care Program to shape staff training in Lowell.

Turnover in staff and board members became opportunities to diversify the Health Center’s leadership. For example, after  intentionally evaluating its requirements for mental health and HIV case workers, the organization started to prioritize language and first-hand cultural experience — rather than level of education attainment—in hiring as well as increased on-the-job trainings to encourage a more diverse applicant pool and internal promotions.

These moves toward a more equitable and inclusive organization would not have been possible without the leadership and support of board members and executive directors.  All have remained committed and became “comfortable with discomfort” as tough issues were and continue to be discussed.

Even with the Health Center’s recent move into a new building, the board used the transition as an opportunity to focus on the people it serves by re-articulating its mission, integrating language about its commitment to reducing health disparities, a core equity issue in the health care field.

Making Equity and Inclusion a Top Priority

For organizations interested in learning more about equity and inclusion, the Health Center’s experience points to key elements of progress:

  • Make sure the board and executive director are on-board and in the (shared) driver’s seat
  • Recognize that the effort is an on-going conversation requiring continual attention and action
  • Use board and staff transitions as opportunities for change
  • Diversify the board by adding constituents
  • Be authentic and patient; this is not a program
  • Embed the goal into your mission and into policies and procedures, tracking and celebrating progress

About the Lowell Community Health Center

Lowell Community Health Center’s mission is to provide caring, quality and culturally competent health services to the people of Greater Lowell, regardless of their financial status; to reduce health disparities and enhance the health of the Greater Lowell community; and to empower each individual to maximize their overall well-being.

Lowell CHC is a community-based health care provider that serves more than 50,000 people in Greater Lowell— roughly one out of every two Lowell residents.  Its employees speak 28 different languages, and at least 40 are trained medical interpreters.  In 2000, it opened one of the nation’s first fully integrated East Meets West health care facilities, Metta Health Center, which focuses on Lowell’s Southeast Asian and other refugee populations.  Because Lowell CHC is a federally qualified health center, patients represent 50 percent of board leadership.

About the Parker Foundation’s Equity and Inclusion Initiative

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation favors applications from organizations with balanced representation in staff and management, reflecting constituents served and the diverse community that Lowell has become.  In celebration of the Foundation’s new equity and inclusion initiative, Parker staff Chaletta Huertas and Elizabeth Drewry interviewed a number of grantees to highlight the extraordinary work they are doing to create a more diverse organization that represents the Lowell area’s breadth of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  The Parker Foundation is grateful to the Lowell Community Health Foundation’s Susan West Levine and Sheila Och for their time in crafting this grantee spotlight.

Parker Foundation Approves New Lead Program Officer

Posted on July 12th, 2018

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation is pleased to announce Chaletta Huertas as its new Lead Program Officer.  For several years Ms. Huertas has provided staff support to the Foundation alongside the former Lead Program Officer and GMA Foundations Director Philip Hall.  GMA Foundations helps donors define and reach their philanthropic goals with expert advice and comprehensive services.

A graduate of Cornell University, Chaletta Huertas has been a program officer at GMA Foundations since 2008.  Ms. Huertas has helped foundation clients through all stages of their development–from setting up a new grantmaking program to crafting a legacy plan when a foundation sunsets. Along the way, she has guided foundation trustees in creating and fine-tuning their impact measurement systems and exploring innovative program designs.

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker, of Lowell, Massachusetts.  Since the late 1980’s, the foundation has focused its grantmaking in Lowell, which is home to the second largest Cambodian-American population in the United States.  The Parker Foundation board includes Newell Flather (president), Karen H. Carpenter (vice president), David W. Donahue, Jr. (treasurer), Sophy Theam (clerk), and Luis M. Pedroso.  Chaletta Huertas is joined in staffing the Foundation by Philip Hall and Liz Drewry, her colleagues at GMA Foundations. In 2017, the Foundation made grant payments of $1,115,500 in charitable contributions.

The Parker Foundation is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, both in its grantmaking in Lowell and in its governance.  Limited by Mr. Parker’s instrument to a board of five, two of the current trustees are women—Karen Carpenter and Sophy Theam— and two are immigrants—Luis M. Pedroso and, again, Sophy Theam.

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces 2017 Grants

Posted on January 31st, 2018

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces 2017 Grants

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation paid a total of $1,115,500 in grants in 2017 to nonprofit organizations working in Lowell, Massachusetts. In addition to these grants, the Foundation ended the year with $282,000 in pledged grants for likely payment in 2018.

 

The Parker Foundation operates with an open application process and is known for its seed-funding for new organizations, support for program innovations, and the expansion of existing programs. This style of funding accounted for more than 90 percent of the grants portfolio.  Examples of new efforts include:

  • large-scale, start-up support for the Lowell Heritage Partnership and its Lowell Waterways initiative
  • a predevelopment grant to the Coalition for a Better Acre for the creation of an arts and community center at the Smith Baker Center
  • the development of an early education center at United Teen Equality Center
  • a capacity-building grant to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell to expand services to older teens.

Capital support, for facilities renovation, totaled $325,000 and included a final payment of a $1 million pledge to the Lowell Community Health Center for its phase one capital campaign for the Dr. Moses Greeley Parker Health Building.

Health-related grants totaled $345,000 (31 percent), followed by grants to human services organizations (24 percent). Three grants focused on the treatment for substance abuse. The largest of these, to Lowell House, supported the organization’s move into the Lowell Community Health Center. Two grants, to Operation Delta Dog and Veteran’s Legal Services, were aimed at Lowell veterans.

As has been true for years, Foundation places an emphasis on projects serving a diverse constituency, including anchor organizations such as the Coalition for a Better Acre and the Lowell Community Health Center. It seeks to deepen its support for immigrant and underrepresented populations over the next few years. The Foundation initiated a new Diversity Initiative to highlight the importance of diversity within the Foundation, amongst its grantees, and in the larger Lowell community.

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker, of Lowell. The Foundation is managed by its five trustees:  Newell Flather (President), Karen Carpenter (Vice President), David W. Donahue, Jr. (Treasurer), Sophy Theam (Secretary), and Luis Pedroso. Staffing is provided by GMA Foundations, a Boston-based consulting firm that helps private foundations and other donors increase their impact and efficiency.

The Foundation is Moving!

Posted on April 21st, 2017

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation is moving!
Effective May 1, 2017 our mailing address will be:

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation

2 Liberty Square, Suite 500

Boston, MA 02109

Please note, our email addresses and phone numbers remain the same.

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces 2016 Grants

Posted on February 20th, 2017

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation paid a total of $1,015,785 in grants in 2016 to nonprofit organizations working in Lowell, Massachusetts. In addition to these grants, the Foundation concluded the year with $740,000 in pledged grants for anticipated payment over the years 2017–2018.

The Parker Foundation operates with an open application process and favors one-time projects, including startup support for new organizations. New ventures for 2016 included: Made in Lowell, an oral history project; Aaron’s Presents, an organization engaging children in charitable activities; Generation Citizen, hands on civics education programming; Life Connection Center, a soup kitchen and community center for those struggling with substance abuse.

Housing and human services funding to support the city’s most needy residents totaled $202,500. As in prior years, the foundation paid close attention to Lowell’s immigrant community, with a total of $250,000 explicitly directed to immigrant-led organizations and programs serving Lowell’s newcomer populations. Support for programs directly concerned with the welfare of children and youth totaled $345,000.

The foundation’s largest grant in 2016 was a $143,285 contribution to the Lowell Community Health Center as part of a $1 million pledge for the new Moses Greeley Parker building in Lowell, named after the uncle and benefactor of Theodore Edson Parker. Approximately 56% percent of the foundation’s grants supported capital needs.

In December 2014, the trustees established the Tom Leggat Opportunities Fund with the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. The Leggat Fund makes an award annually to deserving Lowell students recognized as having great unrealized leadership potential. Onotse Omoyeni and Chummeng Soun were selected to receive this year’s award.

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker, of Lowell.   The foundation is managed by its five trustees:  Newell Flather (President), David W. Donahue, Jr. (Treasurer), Sophy Theam (Secretary), Karen Carpenter and Luis Pedroso. Staffing is provided by GMA Foundations, a Boston consulting firm for philanthropy, under the long-time direction of Philip Hall.

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Elects New Leadership

Posted on December 18th, 2015

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Luis M. Pedroso as a new trustee for the foundation.  Mr. Pedroso has served as a senior advisor to the Foundation since 2007.

An immigrant from the island of Sao Jorge, Azores, Pedroso arrived in the US in 1969 and graduated from Lowell High School in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Four years after his high school graduation, he founded his first business, Qualitronics, which was sold in 2000. He returned to the electronics contract manufacturing industry in 2004 as cofounder and president of Accutronics, Inc. in Chelmsford, MA.

As a respected business owner, philanthropist and caring and committed member of the Portuguese community in Lowell, he is the co-founder of the Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Studies and Research at UMass Lowell (2013), the Portuguese American Scholarship Fund, an endowed fund at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (2004), and the Helio and Amelia Pedroso Endowed Chair in Portuguese Studies at UMass Dartmouth (2002).

Mr. Pedroso has received numerous awards for his philanthropic contributions, including an honorary degree from UMass Dartmouth (2005), the Title of Commander of the Order of Prince Henry from the Portuguese President Cavaco Silva (2007), the George L. Duncan Award for Excellence from Enterprise Bank and Trust (2008), and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Lowell High School (2008).

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker, of Lowell, Massachusetts.  Since the late 1980’s, the foundation has focused its grantmaking in Lowell, which is home to the second largest Cambodian-American population in the United States.  The Parker Foundation board includes Newell Flather (president), David W. Donahue, Jr. (treasurer), Karen Carpenter, and Sophy Theam.  Philip Hall of GMA Foundations serves as the Foundation’s long-term administrator and provides staff support with his colleagues Chaletta Huertas and Hannah Blaisdell.  In 2015, the Foundation made grant payments of $1,041,648 in charitable contributions.