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Harvard Awards Grants to 27 Local Allston-Brighton Nonprofits

An Allston city street, pictured in 2014. Harvard has awarded emergency response grants to 27 Allston-Brighton nonprofit organizations to help tackle pressing needs amplified by the coronavirus pandemic.
An Allston city street, pictured in 2014. Harvard has awarded emergency response grants to 27 Allston-Brighton nonprofit organizations to help tackle pressing needs amplified by the coronavirus pandemic. By Karl Aspelund
By Taylor C. Peterman, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard has awarded emergency response grants to 27 Allston-Brighton nonprofit organizations to help tackle pressing needs amplified by the coronavirus pandemic through a new grant program, the University announced last week.

The Allston-Brighton Emergency Response Grant, administered through the Harvard Ed Portal, is a one-time grant of up to $5,000 given to local groups with projects designed to address needs related to the pandemic, such as food delivery, technology, education, and equipment purchases.

Both University President Lawrence S. Bacow and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said they are grateful for the partnership between Harvard and the city in its efforts to mitigate the effects of the ongoing public health crisis.

“We are grateful for and proud of our strong partnership with Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston, and we are proud of the work we’re able to do together as we confront the challenges posed by the pandemic,” Bacow said in a press release.

Grant recipients include a wide array of nonprofit organizations in Boston, ranging from community centers to food pantries to workers’ relief funds.

One recipient, the Presentation School Foundation Community Center, provides food services and personal care items to low income populations in need. Executive Director Clodagh M. Drummey said the University’s grant has helped the organization pay for additional cleaning supplies needed to keep the center operating during the pandemic.

Drummey said her organization wanted to provide services safely by employing cleaners and expanding cleaning operations.

“We also added hand sanitizer stations around the building and have used funding from Harvard's Allston-Brighton Emergency Response Fund to pay for those additional cleanings and the cleaning supplies,” Drummey said.

“We're extremely grateful for Harvard's support. Support from Harvard has been critical at this time in helping us keep the community center open and helping us to continue to serve the needs of Allston-Brighton residents,” she added.

2Life Communities, another recipient of the grant, provides affordable housing to the neighborhood’s senior population. Marla R. Kannel, the interim chief development officer for the organization, said the University’s grant has allowed them to provide services they previously had not needed to provide, including meal services.

“That's at no cost to the resident. They're not paying for it. It comes from the philanthropy that we've been able to achieve and some savings that we have throughout the organization,” she said.

Allston Village Main Streets has used the University’s grant toward their own grant program, administered to individual workers impacted by the closure of businesses due to the pandemic. Executive Director Alex Cornacchini said his organization’s grant program will help 92 workers from Allston.

“I've heard from people that have received this grant that it's enough to buy groceries for a month, or to pay off some bills,” Cornacchini wrote in an emailed statement. “Harvard's grant will be able to go towards 20 Allston people that have been laid off, so it's a huge help.”

“Most of these employees don’t know when or if they will get back to work, and we are proud to help them out in this time of uncertainty,” he added.

Kannel said the emergency response grant represents something beyond just additional funding for their programs.

“I think the gift from Harvard does a couple of things. It was a symbol to say that [the University is a] part of our community and the Allston Brighton community, and you want to support people who are at risk,” Kannel said. “And I think regardless if it was $10 or $1,000 or a million dollars, that statement is really important to be made — that organizations that are based in the Allston-Brighton area — that they're part of the fabric of the community.”

“We're so very grateful, and our residents are incredibly grateful,” she added.

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

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AllstonMetro NewsMetroCoronavirus Feature