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Harvard Awards $200,000 in Grants to Allston Nonprofits in 15th Year of Partnership Fund

The future site of Harvard's Enterprise Research Campus in Allston.
The future site of Harvard's Enterprise Research Campus in Allston. By Addison Y. Liu
By Jack R. Trapanick, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard announced grants totaling $200,000 to 20 different organizations and programs in Allston as part of the Harvard-Allston Partnership Fund at a ceremony last Thursday.

The grant total is double the $100,000 that had previously been distributed every year since 2008, when the fund was founded as part of a cooperation agreement between Harvard and the City of Boston. The agreement allowed Harvard to begin construction for its planned expansion into Allston, including what is now the Science and Engineering Complex.

The permanent funding increase is part of a proposal by Harvard to the Boston Planning and Development Agency as the University seeks approval for further development at 92 Seattle St.

“Increasing Harvard’s contributions to this partnership fund during my last year in office was a wonderful way to demonstrate our commitment to the Allston-Brighton community,” University President Lawrence S. Bacow, who attended the ceremony, said in a press release.

Among the recipients were multiple summer camps and food pantries, a YMCA, a school parent council, an art gallery, and the Charles River Watershed Association. Grant sizes ranged from $20,000 to support a learn-to-skate program by Allston Brighton Youth Hockey, $15,000 to support instruction in string instruments at the Gardner Pilot Academy, and $5,000 to create a children’s “sensory space” at the Honan Allston library.

Heloisa M. Galvão, the executive director of the Brazilian Women’s Group, said her group — which received a grant of $20,000 this year — has received grants from the fund of increasing size for the past three years after finding out about it through the Allston-Brighton Adult Education Coalition.

“The grant from Harvard is crucial, because the way we see it, Allston-Brighton has become the largest Brazilian community in Boston,” she said.

Galvão cited the “extremely high” cost of living in the area, food insecurity, and a lack of job opportunities for immigrants without documentation or who do not speak English as issues her organization attempts to address and will devote the funding received toward.

“They come because they need clothes, because they need something for the kids, because they need food, because they need us to help them to fill out some papers, to read the letter that they got,” she said of individuals who seek help from the Brazilian Women’s Group.

She added that without external support from organizations such as Harvard, the organization’s work would be “extremely difficult.”

Karen Smith, a member of the fund’s advisory committee that reviews grant proposals, said the committee sought to award grants that reflect the diverse demographics in Allston.

“It was a nice way to get a cross-section of need and evaluate proposals that would come in,” she said.

Asked whether she believes the funding increase represents a positive step for Harvard’s historically fraught relationship with Allston, Smith said the fund is “completely standard — and what’s expected of anyone looking to do development.”

“It is very common when developers get permission from city governments to do any one of a number of things — like housing, commercial buildings, whatever — the package that is negotiated includes mitigation and community benefits,” she said.

Nevertheless, Smith said the money Harvard has contributed towards the fund is “well spent” and benefits Allston.

“There are going to be kids going to the West End summer camp that wouldn’t have gone before. There are kids getting music lessons in a school that doesn’t have a budget for music, and now they’re getting music lessons,” she said.

—Staff writer Jack R. Trapanick can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @jackrtrapanick.

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