Over the years and from various corners there’s been discussion about the need for a community foundation for Somerville. Some people have gone so far as to do research towards the idea of a foundation but nothing concrete has yet emerged. Since the needs that inspire the idea of Community Foundation continue to emerge a group of people gathered this past summer to articulate those needs and what a Somerville Foundation might be.
First time I heard the idea of a Somerville community foundation floated was back in the mid 90s when the Hyams Foundation withdrew their support from Somerville and cited the Chelsea Human Services Collaborative as the key reason why they continued to fund non-profits in that city but not in Somerville. More recently an education foundation was part of Mark Niedergang’s School Committee campaign. In the wake of the fire at the East Somerville School, I saw the business community come out with significant fundraising and saw that there wasn’t an established mechanicism for meeting this immediate city need. In Boston, there’s a Main Street Foundation that gathers corporate support for neighborhood economic development — Carrie of East Somerville Main Streets and I have fantasized about something similar for Somerville. The past several months folks in the human services area have been talking about establishing an endowment that could provide grants to local groups. There’s also talk among art groups discussing the need for a group to provide non-profit fiscal sponsorship and administrative organization for small community arts initiatives.
The idea is to develop a Somerville community foundation that generates and distributes financial and community resources to support the community programs of Somerville. The intent of the Foundation is to serve a broad spectrum of community needs for current and future generations.
The goal is to build the long-term fundraising capacity of our city’s community and social service organizations. Through our working together we wish to encourage effective local giving, particularly by those new to our city, to access new sources of support such as bequests and planned giving to meet needs city-wide, and to increase the impact of community fundraising through a permanent endowment.
The group developed a document detailing what the Somerville Community Foundation might be and why it is needed. We’re interested in hearing your feedback.