Maria Cunha Elected to Board of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation

LOWELL, MA – The trustees of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation have voted Maria Cunha to the board effective July 1, 2022. Maria has served as an advisor to the Foundation since 2019.

Parker President Karen Carpenter made the announcement of the appointment following the Spring Board of Trustees meeting, and said, “we are thrilled that Maria joins us. Her life truly reflects servant leadership and expands our commitment to Lowell. As the third woman on the board, an immigrant, and a Lowell resident, Maria’s addition to the board represents another key step in realizing our commitment to having the Foundation’s leadership reflect Lowell’s diverse community.”  

Born in the Azores and coming to Lowell with her family in 1967, Maria quickly learned English and excelled in the Lowell Public Schools, receiving a scholarship to Regis College, being the first in her family to attend and graduate college. For over 30 years, she has supported immigrants and refugees in Lowell through her work at the International Institute, Congressman Meehan’s district office, and as an administrator at Middlesex Community College. “I am grateful and honored for the opportunity to join as a trustee. Throughout my career living and working in Lowell for over 40 years, I have witnessed the impact the Parker Foundation has had on the many organizations serving immigrants, youth, and our most vulnerable citizens,” said Maria in response to her board appointment.

About the Parker Foundation, Lowell MA

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker of Lowell. Since the late 1980s the Foundation has focused its grantmaking in Lowell, which is home to the second largest Cambodian American population in the United States. The Parker board includes Karen H. Carpenter, President; David W. Donahue Jr., Treasurer; Sophy Theam, Clerk; Luis M. Pedroso; and now most recently Maria Cunha. The Foundation also works with two Lowell-based advisors: Benjamin Opara and Vladimir Saldana. In 2021, the Foundation made grant payments of almost $1.2 million in charitable contributions. For a complete list of recipients, visit https://www.parkerfoundationlowell.org and an article outlining the Foundation’s journey and continued commitment to equity and inclusion can be found here.

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces Spring 2022 Grants

LOWELL, MA — In the spring of 2022, The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation paid a total of $738,775 in grants to nonprofit organizations at work in Lowell, Massachusetts, and pledged a total of $100,000 for payment in the fall of 2022 or 2023. Some grants are listed below, with the complete list available on the Foundation’s website. All grants follow the 1944 will of Theodore Edson Parker to support vulnerable and underserved Lowell residents.

Health & Human services grants represented 32 percent of the foundation’s giving so far this year – a total of $240,000 to support vulnerable Lowellians. These grants respond to the continuing need to combat COVID-19 impacts. For example, a $75,000 grant to Mill City Grows will help it maintain and expand its garden-based programming to address increased food insecurity. A $40,000 grant to the Eliot Presbyterian Church will support its day program for those who are homeless.

The Foundation’s Equity & Inclusion Initiative—now in its sixth year—is devoted to improving equity and inclusion within the Foundation, amongst its grantees, and in the larger Lowell community.

Grants to organizations led by people of color and those that benefit immigrant/refugee communities and communities of color accounted for more than 30 percent of the grants portfolio. Funded projects include:

  • a first-year capacity-building grant to Free Soil Arts Collective, which aims to create opportunities for artists of color in the Greater Lowell area
  • a grant to the Center for Hope and Healing to support leadership programming for Black girls and young adults
  • a second-year capacity-building grant to Kids in Tech to sustain and expand afterschool computer technology clubs
  • a grant for citizenship services in Lowell and the surrounding area to Project Citizenship

A capital grant of $100,000 went to the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston to successfully purchase Western Avenue Studios & Lofts.

The Foundation is managed by its four trustees: Karen Carpenter (President), David W. Donahue, Jr. (Treasurer), Sophy Theam (Secretary), and Luis Pedroso (Trustee). The foundation’s former president, Newell Flather, passed away in 2021 after 40-years of service as chair; a commemorative news article can be found here. 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.

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces 2021 Grants

In 2021, The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation paid a total of $1,192,150 in grants to nonprofit organizations at work in Lowell, Massachusetts, and pledged a total of $530,000 for payment in 2022.  Some grants are listed below with the complete list available on the Foundation’s website. All grants follow the 1944 will of Theodore Edson Parker to support vulnerable and underserved Lowell residents.

Human services grants represented 64 percent of the foundation’s giving – a total of $736,000 to support vulnerable Lowellians. These grants respond to the continuing need to combat COVID-19 impacts. For example, a $100,000 grant to Community Teamwork helps residents ineligible for government aid for fuel/heating, food, and housing.

The Foundation’s Equity & Inclusion Initiative—now in its fifth year—is devoted to improving equity and inclusion within the Foundation, amongst its grantees, and in the larger Lowell community.

Grants to organizations led by people of color and those that benefit immigrant/refugee communities and communities of color accounted for more than 30 percent of the grants portfolio. Funded projects include:

  • a large-scale start-up support grant to Fortaleza, a new Latinx education advocacy organization
  • capital support grants to the Center for Hope and Healing and the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers to renovate their new buildings
  • a capacity-building grant to a coalition of Lowell-based agencies (Lowell Votes, Coalition for a Better Acre, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, Latinx Community Center for Empowerment, the Merrimack Valley Project, the Lowell Alliance as well as the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights) for voter education efforts related to the City of Lowell’s conversion to a district-based municipal electoral system
  • a grant for Afghan evacuee resettlement services to the International Institute of New England

Capital grants totaled $403,500, including a first-year $100,000 grant to Acre Family Day Care to purchase a permanent home in downtown Lowell to support family childcare businesses.

The Foundation is managed by its four trustees: Karen Carpenter (President), David W. Donahue, Jr. (Treasurer), Sophy Theam (Secretary), and Luis Pedroso (Trustee). The foundation’s former president, Newell Flather, passed away in 2021 after 40-years of service as chair; a commemorative news article can be found here. 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.