Boston State Trust boosts local groups with grants

The Boston State Community Trust, a subsidiary of the Boston State Hospital Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), awarded grants to five local organizations in the Great Room of the Foley Senior Residences in Mattapan last Thursday.

The CAC was established in 1985, but the Community Trust became fully operational in 2011. Its purpose is to allocate grants to community-based organizations located in Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, and Roslindale.

The 2012 grant winners were the Boys and Girls Club of Boston and Dorchester, Horizons for Homeless Children, WEATOC, and Spontaneous Celebrations. The total amount awarded by the trust for the 2012 funding cycle was $55,387.

Pete Nash, from the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, said the grant funded three summer camps, at the Mattahunt Community Center, Orchard Gardens Housing Developments, and the Franklin Field Housing Development. “Across the three sites, we served over 200 young people, predominantly ages 6 to 12,” Nash said, adding that the organization partnered with Boston Youth Fund, ABCD, and MLK Scholars to employ 50 teens across the three sites.

“The two new camps at the Mattahunt and Orchard Gardens went really well, and the success of those wouldn’t have been possible without the support of this funding,” Nash said.

Asa Fanelli, president and CEO of Horizons for Homeless Children – which has locations in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Dorchester – said the grant money bought new learning materials for the children, who are ages 2 to 6, and funded play and early education. Horizons also provides the parents with job training and education so they can get back on their feet.

“We are extremely grateful for the extremely generous grant we received here,” Fanelli said. “In the three centers, we have 17 classrooms, and this grant helped us buy all that critical material that we need.”

Spontaneous Celebrations’ Beantown Society began in 2006, when 15 to 17-year-olds identified violence as a major issue in their communities, and felt the adults and legislators weren’t doing anything about it.
“They decided to create their own organization, and they began doing youth leadership development and social justice education,” Ruby Reyes, a member of the advisory board and a “Beantown Elder,” said. “Beantown Society works with a lot of young people that some folks are scared to work with.” The organization is still youth-based and youth-led, and the grant helped make a “profound impact” on the work being done.

Claradine Moore Cowell, president of WEATOC (We’re Educators – A Touch of Class), said it is a “youth development organization that deals with the pros and cons of adolescent development” through health education workshops. The kids then develop skits dealing with different issues such as HIV/AIDS and perform them at churches, housing developments, and schools.

Jimmy Clark, who has been chair of the CAC’s advisory board for over 25 years, said that over the next 20 years, the Community Trust will have awarded $2 million to community organizations, with an average gift grant of $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Funding is provided to organizations that meet the 11 criteria set by the committee and fall under one of six categories: community revitalization; economic development; mental health; education & job training; youth recreation and social development. The next funding cycle will begin in February 2013.