Effective January 1, 2021, the Trustees of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation have voted Karen Carpenter as Board President. Karen has been a Parker trustee since 1982 and was the first woman trustee elected. She succeeds Newell Flather, who has served as chair for 40 years and who will continue to serve as Past President.
The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation paid a total of $1,293,150 in grants to nonprofit organizations working in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2020, and pledged a total of $190,000 for likely payment in 2021.
The Parker Foundation’s grantmaking, and its open application process, is focused primarily on the city of Lowell and its residents. Parker has a long tradition of responding to emergency situations, such as the Merrimack Valley gas explosions. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Foundation gave unrestricted grants totaling $225,000 (17.4 percent) to 15 organizations for their pandemic relief efforts, ensuring that they would continue to meet the community’s essential needs, such as food and housing.
Human services grants, including the COVID-19 relief grants, represent 37 percent of the foundation’s giving, its largest funding category – a total of $708,000 to support vulnerable Lowellians.
The Foundation continues to increase its focus on organizations led by people of color and those that benefit immigrant communities and communities of color. These grants accounted for more than 30 percent of the grants portfolio. Funded projects include:
- a large-scale grant to Project LEARN to increase the Lowell Public School’s capacity to recruit and retain teachers who reflect the student population’s cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds
- a capacity-building grant to Angkor Dance Troupe for its work to preserve Cambodian dance culture in Lowell
- a first-year grant to Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA), Latinx Community Center for Empowerment, and the Lowell Alliance for voter education efforts related to the City of Lowell’s conversion to a district-based municipal electoral system
- a grant to enable the International Institute of New England to move to a new office inside the Lowell Community Health Center, thus better serving immigrant and refugee communities
The Foundation’s Diversity Initiative—now in its fourth year—is devoted to improving equity and inclusion within the Foundation, amongst its grantees, and in the larger Lowell community.
Capital grants totaled $175,000, including the first payment of a $500,000 pledge to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell to renovate and expand its facilities. This building project will allow the Club to double the number of youth served.
The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker, of Lowell. The Foundation is managed by its five trustees: Karen Carpenter (President), Newell Flather (Past President), David W. Donahue, Jr. (Treasurer), Sophy Theam (Secretary), and Luis Pedroso (Trustee). The Foundation also works with three Lowell-based advisors: Benjamin Opara, Maria Cunha, and Vladimir Saldana. Staffing is provided by GMA Foundations, a philanthropic advisory firm that helps private foundations and other donors increase their impact and efficiency.