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Harvard Announces New Grant Program to Fund Local Nonprofits

A residential street in Allston, pictured in 2014.
A residential street in Allston, pictured in 2014. By Karl Aspelund
By Simon J. Levien and Taylor C. Peterman, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard is piloting a new grant program that will provide funding to Allston-Brighton nonprofit organizations working to address urgent needs exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the University announced April 24.

The Allston-Brighton Emergency Response Grant is a one-time grant of up to $5,000 that will be given to nonprofits that serve Boston neighborhoods. The grant program, administered through the Harvard Ed Portal, has received more than 10 applications since its opening on Friday. The first round of recipients were notified Tuesday.

“This new program will provide much-needed support to groups and organizations that are responding to the needs of the Allston-Brighton community,” University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in a press release. “We are eager to assist people on the front lines who are caring for their fellow citizens as we all continue to confront the challenges posed by the pandemic.”

The grant application highlighted funding for technology resources, educational programs, food preparation and emergency equipment.

Alex Cornacchini, executive director of Allston Village Main Streets — an organization that assists neighborhood businesses and one of the first recipients of the grant — said the $5,000 the organization has received will support its own relief grant, dubbed the Workers Relief Fund, allocated for workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This grant fund was established a few weeks ago to help out Allston workers that have been furloughed or laid off by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cornacchini said. “We’ve had around 56 recipients so far, so this $5,000 will go a long way to helping out a lot more people from Allston.”

“A lot of our workers that rely on tips and are working paycheck to paycheck have no financial recourse right now, so this grant just provides a little bit of a security blanket to them while they’re kind of in limbo,” he said.

Andrea Howard, chief executive officer of the Allston-Brighton youth development agency West End House, said the organization has used the grant money to continue offering meal services for underserved families. West End House previously ran an afterschool meals program which has since transitioned into a grocery delivery service in the last two weeks.

“Harvard was early on helping us build our capacity and getting us a freezer,” Howard said, adding that West End House plans to use additional financial support from the grant to purchase and transport food from a food bank.

Howard said the agency has successfully continued its meals program in this new format.

“Last week we provided a week’s worth of meals for 585 people,” she said. “That’s over 8,000 meals we were able to provide through our grocery delivery.”

Grant applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through May 21, with decisions made within a week of submission.

—Staff writer Simon J. Levien can be reached at simon.levien@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @simonjlevien.

—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at taylor.peterman@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @taylorcpeterman.

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