The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation paid a total of $1,015,785 in grants in 2016 to nonprofit organizations working in Lowell, Massachusetts. In addition to these grants, the Foundation concluded the year with $740,000 in pledged grants for anticipated payment over the years 2017–2018.
The Parker Foundation operates with an open application process and favors one-time projects, including startup support for new organizations. New ventures for 2016 included: Made in Lowell, an oral history project; Aaron’s Presents, an organization engaging children in charitable activities; Generation Citizen, hands on civics education programming; Life Connection Center, a soup kitchen and community center for those struggling with substance abuse.
Housing and human services funding to support the city’s most needy residents totaled $202,500. As in prior years, the foundation paid close attention to Lowell’s immigrant community, with a total of $250,000 explicitly directed to immigrant-led organizations and programs serving Lowell’s newcomer populations. Support for programs directly concerned with the welfare of children and youth totaled $345,000.
The foundation’s largest grant in 2016 was a $143,285 contribution to the Lowell Community Health Center as part of a $1 million pledge for the new Moses Greeley Parker building in Lowell, named after the uncle and benefactor of Theodore Edson Parker. Approximately 56% percent of the foundation’s grants supported capital needs.
In December 2014, the trustees established the Tom Leggat Opportunities Fund with the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. The Leggat Fund makes an award annually to deserving Lowell students recognized as having great unrealized leadership potential. Onotse Omoyeni and Chummeng Soun were selected to receive this year’s award.
The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker, of Lowell. The foundation is managed by its five trustees: Newell Flather (President), David W. Donahue, Jr. (Treasurer), Sophy Theam (Secretary), Karen Carpenter and Luis Pedroso. Staffing is provided by GMA Foundations, a Boston consulting firm for philanthropy, under the long-time direction of Philip Hall.