Newell Flather was a force in Lowell

Memorial: Philanthropist died Aug. 30 at age 83.
By Barry Scanlon, Correspondent for the Lowell Sun

Lowell » He wasn’t a screamer. Didn’t rant or rave. Didn’t speak the most.

But during a meeting, when he voiced his opinion, all eyes around the table gravitated toward Newell Flather.

“You’d be in a meeting and he would quietly ask questions,” said Joe Hungler, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell. “ You always knew he was there. He had an understated presence. He didn’t talk the most or speak the loudest, but his voice carried.”

Flather, a Lowell native and renowned philanthropist, died Aug. 30, at the age of 83, after a series of chronic health issues. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Kate Cameron Flather.

His was a life filled with international travel, a love of sweets, opera music and museums, booming laughter, a determined advocacy for race and gender equality and, above all, a drive to help others less fortunate.

“Philanthropy has its roots in Greek — love of mankind — and Newell’s life work exemplified the highest and best practices in philanthropy,” said Karen Carpenter, the president of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation.

In 2019, trustees, advisers and staff of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation gathered to celebrate the nonprofit’s 75th anniversary, including Newell Flather, left. Also pictured, rear, left to right, Benjamin Opara, D.J. Donahue, Luis Pedroso, Vladamir Saldana. Front, from left, Flather, Phil Hall, Maria Cunha, Chaletta Huertas, Sophy Theam and Karen Carpenter.

Flather was the chair of the foundation for 40 years and a past president. The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, which paid nearly $ 1.3 million in grants in 2020 to nonprofit organizations working in Lowell, was founded in Lowell in 1944.

A memorial will be held when COVID permits. He is also survived by a son, Newell Flather, of Newton, and a daughter, Alice Rogers Flather, of Los Angeles.

Born on Feb. 28, 1938, Flather grew up in Lowell and attended public school in the city. Even when he rose to great heights, when he couldn’t walk 20 feet in Boston without bumping into someone he knew, he never forgot his hometown.

He is credited with coining the phrase, “There’s a lot to like about Lowell.”

Though he was a longtime resident of Newton, Flather visited Lowell often and whenever he did, his first stop was to the Do- nut Shack on Westford Street.

“There really was no one like him. It was quite a life. He was a great Lowellian,” said Phil Hall, the director of grantmaking for GMA Foundations. “ He was an amazing person. He had a real love for the city.”

In 1961, Flather was a member of the first group of Peace Corps volunteers. His experience in Ghana, where he served as a teacher, was a profound one, fueling his commitment to race and gender equality.

“His Peace Corps work underscored his deeply held values. Newell never forgot his roots, and used his broad experience garnered later in banking to help others through philanthropy,” Carpenter said.

Returning to the U. S., he was introduced to the charitable foundation field when he worked at The African-American Institute.

He earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and spent 10 years in Boston banking. He then founded GMA Foundations in 1982 with two women, Mary Phillips and Ala Reid, to help private foundations increase their efficiency and impact. He served as GMA’s president until his retirement in 2007.

Upon his death, GMA posted a message on its website: “Newell was gregarious, imaginative, optimistic, and a consummate connector. All of us at GMA will miss his larger than life presence, his bow ties, his stories of international travel, his ideas of meetings we should have with people we should meet, the donuts left over every year from Halloween, and his powerful holiday eggnog.”

Newell Flather died Aug. 30 at age 83.

Flather was also a founding trustee of Oxfam America and served on the board for nine years, three as president.

Flather was blessed with the “gift” of being able to make people feel comfortable, Hall said.

“He just knew a lot of people,” Hall said. “He really cared about people. He was a very warm person. He had a great sense of humor. He was not quiet. He was one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.”

He had friends in high places, like Lowell native Paul Tsongas, who ran for president in 1992. Flather admired the ability of his friend to get large projects accomplished while not forgetting smaller ones.

But he was also comfortable around those less powerful.

His aunt, Edith Nourse Rogers, was Massachusetts’ first congresswoman, serving 35 years. His father, John Rogers Flather, ran the Boott Mill. Newell’s father was a friend of Theodore Edson Parker, who had inherited a large sum of money from his uncle. John Rogers Flather served as a trustee when the foundation was established.

Carpenter became Parker’s first female board member in 1982 after an invite from Flather.

“Newell understood the importance of patience with newly forming entities, like CMAA and CBA, and we were proud of the spectacular successes like the Lowell Community Health Center and UTEC, which took our early funding to new heights,” Carpenter said. “ Newell Flather was a truly memorable man; we grieve his passing and are grateful for his presence that benefited many in Lowell and beyond. Newell loved meeting new people, attending weddings, parties, celebrations, and was always touting the wonderful restaurants in Lowell. He embraced people of all ages, races, colors, genders.”

Last year, the New England Fund for the Arts established the Newell Flather Award for leadership in the arts.

“ What I really respected about him was his commitment to the community,” Hungler said. “ It wasn’t about Newell or the Parker Foundation, it was about how do we make a difference? Lowell was a special place for him.”

Flather insisted on making local boards diverse.

A Khmer American, Sophy Theam, joined the Parker Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2010. A chance meeting in the lobby of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium changed her life 21 years ago.

Theam was serving as tour manager for a nationwide Cambodia dance tour when she met the gregarious Flather. They struck up a friendship.

She became a fellow at the Parker Foundation before moving to Florida. Returning to Lowell, she wasn’t sure of her career path. Flather placed a call on her behalf to Enterprise Bank. Theam has worked at the Lowell-based bank for nearly 16 years.

In 2014, Theam invited Newell and Kate Flather to her Lowell home for her daughter’s third birthday party. She asked guests to dress as a superhero. Kate Flather wore a Wonder Woman shirt and headband.

“But Newell, well, he didn’t like to dress up, and he came as himself,” Theam said. “He probably didn’t know or think about himself as one, but he didn’t have to dress up to be a superhero. He was a superhero to many of us already. To me and my family, he was and will always be a superhero.”

© 2021 Lowell Sun | Photos Courtesy Theodore Edson Parker Foundation

Foundation’s DEI Progress Reflects its Place-Based Grantmaking

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation has a history of prioritizing its commitment to underserved groups in Lowell, Massachusetts, the city in which the foundation was established in 1944. But in order to really effect change and to more closely reflect an evolving and increasingly diverse Lowell—home to a large immigrant population, including the nation’s second largest group of Cambodians—the Parker Foundation has more recently turned inward, taking steps to diversify its own board of trustees. In incremental ways over the last two decades, the foundation has welcomed stakeholders into the fold, both in an advisory and decision-making capacity.

It’s a good example of a board setting bold goals for itself and slowly, but resolutely, seeing those come to fruition.

Board Diversity

“We are on a journey and we’ve made some real progress,” says Board President Karen Carpenter, the first woman elected to the foundation’s board in 1982. “We have more work to do, but I think we know what the road is.”

Leading up to the diversification of its board, the Parker Foundation launched a fellows program in 2000 to engage Lowell residents and in 2006 created an advisory board. Today, three of the five trustees are former advisory board members, two of whom are from immigrant families, and all three members of the second advisory board are Lowell residents from diverse ethnic backgrounds with strong records of civic engagement.

“Bringing the fellows and advisors in has been a critical step,” says Carpenter. “We are committed to hearing and involving their voices. They are our eyes and ears.”

In 2010, the foundation launched a formal planning process on diversity and inclusion. On the advice of GMA Foundations, the foundation commissioned a diversity report in 2011. In 2017, the Parker Foundation developed and began to implement a diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.

While these steps have been instrumental in setting the Parker Foundation on its path to diversifying, building equity, and redistributing power, the board’s leadership was key to laying a foundation that would support this kind of evolution.

Leadership

Indeed, Carpenter credits past president Newell Flather with setting the tone, noting his experience in Ghana as a member of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers. “Newell’s life has been one of engaging with other cultures. He’s been on the ground doing this work all along.”

The importance of supportive leadership can’t be understated. In fact, none of these initiatives would have been possible if there wasn’t a leader who thought it was important. And now, having taken up the leadership baton in January 2021, Carpenter is carrying this momentum forward consistent with her own values. “I’ve always believed that the person who’s not at the table should be at the table. And when you bring more people to the table, you need to share power,” she says.

Community Relationships

Sophy Theam, a Khmer American who served as both a fellow and advisor to the Parker Foundation, was elected to the board of trustees in 2010. “Since I’ve been connected to the Foundation, it’s been encouraging nonprofit organizations to diversify their boards” while working to diversify itself. For her own part, Theam recalls Flather initially reaching out to her and cultivating a friendship. “If you’re a historically white board that has never really expanded and doesn’t have a diverse network, you need to start there. But you also need to start building authentic relationships with community members who could ultimately serve on your board in the future. That’s what Newell did with me.”

Place-Based Grantmaking

The Parker Foundation’s journey to diversify its board brings with it an intensified focus on grantmaking to organizations led by people of color and those that benefit immigrant communities and communities of color. In 2020, these grants represented more than 30 percent of the foundation’s grants portfolio. Today, more than 98 percent of the Parker Foundation’s grantmaking is directed to Lowell – a trajectory begun in 1982 when it began to shift its grantmaking away from Boston and the surrounding communities.

The results reflect a desire to be more local and to have an impact. As the city continued to change, the Parker Foundation wanted to become connected to those on the ground and identify the emergent needs.

This kind of connection is vital in that it educates you on what’s happening in the community and allows you to be more responsive and make better decisions in grant-making.

Looking ahead, the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation will continue to assess its progress, measure the impact of its grants, and encourage diversity among grantees. See a list of past grant recipients here. This progress hasn’t been a straight line, but rather, different waves of changes.

“We’re not declaring success,” says Carpenter. “We need to keep at it.”


Chaletta Huertas is GMA Foundations’ Senior Program Officer and lead program officer for the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation. Chaletta’s expertise is in evaluating programs, managing complex projects, and strategizing ways to maximize impact. She has deep experience in the fields of early childhood education and youth development for diverse populations.

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces 2020 Grants

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.

Grantee Spotlight: Mill City Grows

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation spotlights grantees who have taken intentional and concrete steps in becoming more equitable and inclusive. With the understanding that no organization has “made it,” our goal is to inspire others with practical examples of progress.

Sowing Seeds: Food Justice

Mill City Grows (MCG) is a nonprofit in Lowell, MA that promotes food justice by providing access to and education about local food.

Founded in 2011, MCG serves approximately 15,000 Lowell residents through community and school gardens, urban farming, mobile markets, grassroots organizing and educational programming.

Mill City Grows has developed a strong foundation of inclusion by involving the community in the development of its programming. The organization recognizes it has room to grow in reflecting Lowell’s diverse communities and seeks to expand its board and staff accordingly.

Spreading Roots: Community Involvement in Decision Making

Over the years, Mill City Grows has built its decision-making processes around community needs and values. Program staff engages community members through outreach and community meetings to locate and design local gardens. Residents identify culturally significant crops to incorporate into urban farms and co-design educational programs with MCG staff, taking the lead role as educators.

Moreover, Mill City Grows is currently in the planning phase for a new Market Garden program which will create space and resources for refugee and immigrant growers while providing communities with traditional foods. For the pilot program, gardeners will have access to a plot of land to cultivate traditional Mexican crops which will then be sold through MCG’s existing market network. MCG has formed a community advisory group to evaluate the program and to develop a plan for continuation if the pilot is successful.

Mill City Grows intentionally chose a high level of community involvement in this program development, rather than a strictly data-based or staff-led process. MCG’s experience indicates that this method leads to better outcomes, community buy-in, and a program model which meets the needs of participants and the wider community.

MCG seeks change on a larger scale through institutional partnerships with the Lowell Community Health Center, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, UMass Lowell, Lowell Public Schools and other local organizations. Through these collaborations, Mill City Grows is able to reach a wider audience, avoid duplicate efforts, and consolidate resources to deliver new programs such as specialized markets or “food as medicine” farm shares that meet the needs of diverse residents.

Digging DeepMaking Equity and Inclusion a Top Priority

For organizations interested in learning more about equity and inclusion, Mill City Grows’ experience points to key elements:

  • Hire from the community — Reflect the culture and language of program participants
  • Consider accessibility — Language, time of day, and physical surroundings are barriers to participation in programs
  • Listen actively — Involve all levels of board and staff in open conversations
  • Be persistent — Take time to intentionally discuss equity and inclusion, touching the ‘third rail’ of class and race, even if things get uncomfortable. Build in such discussions in board meetings, staff meetings, program evaluations, and other spaces where decisions are made
  • Diversify leadership — Expand the board or use board vacancies to add members who have experienced the challenges your organization is trying to address (e.g. food insecurity) 

About Mill City Grows

Mill City Grows’ mission is to foster food justice by improving physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally grown food, and education. The organization was born out of community needs, specifically 1) to revitalize vacant lots and parks across the City to create safe, attractive, and functional green spaces and 2) to provide access to affordable, nutritious produce as there were not enough full-service grocers in Lowell neighborhoods. Mill City Grows programming instills in the community a deeper understanding of how to access affordable, fresh, healthy food, where food comes from, and how eating healthy food impacts residents’ overall health and well-being.

About the Parker Foundation’s Equity and Inclusion Initiative

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation favors applications from organizations with balanced representation in staff and management, reflecting constituents served and the diverse community that Lowell has become. In celebration of the Foundation’s new equity and inclusion initiative, Parker staff Chaletta Huertas and Elizabeth Drewry interviewed a number of grantees to highlight the extraordinary work they are doing to create a more diverse organization that represents the Lowell area’s breadth of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The Parker Foundation is grateful to Mill City Grows’ Jessica Wilson and Lydia Sisson for their time in crafting this grantee spotlight.

Parker Foundation Board Names Three Lowell Residents as Advisors

Lowell MA: May 30, 2019   Theodore Edson Parker Foundation announces the appointment of three new Lowell advisors, residents Maria Cunha, Ben Opara, and Vladimir Saldana, who will serve for a two-year term in an advisory capacity to the foundation’s board until 2021.

Parker President Newell Flather made the announcement of the appointment following the Spring Board of Trustees meeting, and said, “I am very pleased that these outstanding individuals have agreed to join us, and provide their insights, knowledge, and experience about organizations serving Lowell.  They will expand our deliberations in making grants. In particular, each advisor reflects our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the most important value of the current board. Their advice and counsel will greatly inform our processes.”

Maria Cunha

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.

Benjamin T. Opara

Ben owns and operates Duziem Labs, Inc., a manufacturer of personal care products. He serves as vice president of the Lowell Pan African Association and is co-founder of the African Cultural Festival which has been thriving for 19 years. Ben earned a degree in engineering from the University of Nigeria, and, after immigrating to the USA in 1990, earned a Master of Science in engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He and his wife have lived in Lowell for 28 years; they have three children.

Vladimir Saldana

A native of the Dominican Republic, Vlad moved to Lowell when he was 10, speaking only Spanish, but quickly adapting in the Lowell Public Schools and achieving the AA in Science from Middlesex Community College, and the BS in Finance and Management from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.  In addition to raising funds for rural Rwanda, he chairs Fortaleza, a broad based community group to advocate for equal educational opportunities for Lowell’s Latino students and their families. In his day job, he manages community outreach for Congresswoman Lori Trahan in the northern part of the third district.

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 Newell Flather, President; Karen H. Carpenter, Vice President; David W. Donahue Jr., Treasurer; Sophy Theam, Clerk; and Luis M. Pedroso.  In 2018, the foundation made grant payments of $1,000,000 in charitable contributions. For a complete list of recipients, visit parkerfoundation.gmafoundations.com

Grantee Spotlight: Lowell Community Health Center

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation spotlights grantees who have taken intentional and concrete steps in becoming more equitable and inclusive. With the understanding that no organization has “made it,” our goal is to inspire others with practical examples of progress.

Equity & Inclusion Is a Journey

Lowell Community Health Center (CHC) is a community-based health care provider that serves more than 50,000 people in Greater Lowell— roughly one out of every two Lowell residents.  Since its inception almost 50 years ago, the Health Center has focused on serving the many communities of Lowell. In recent years the organization’s leadership realized that in order to fully serve these communities—even as demographics shifted—the various groups must be represented throughout the entire operation, including board and staff.

Lowell CHC has achieved notable results on its journey toward greater equity and inclusion. The transition has been a long-term process through which the organization left no level of operations unanalyzed.

Focus on People

The Health Center has sought funding for a number of initiatives aimed at its own team, such as equity-focused leadership retreats and all-staff trainings on culturally appropriate care. It accessed resources from Seattle’s Cross Cultural Health Care Program to shape staff training in Lowell.

Turnover in staff and board members became opportunities to diversify the Health Center’s leadership. For example, after  intentionally evaluating its requirements for mental health and HIV case workers, the organization started to prioritize language and first-hand cultural experience — rather than level of education attainment—in hiring as well as increased on-the-job trainings to encourage a more diverse applicant pool and internal promotions.

These moves toward a more equitable and inclusive organization would not have been possible without the leadership and support of board members and executive directors.  All have remained committed and became “comfortable with discomfort” as tough issues were and continue to be discussed.

Even with the Health Center’s recent move into a new building, the board used the transition as an opportunity to focus on the people it serves by re-articulating its mission, integrating language about its commitment to reducing health disparities, a core equity issue in the health care field.

Making Equity and Inclusion a Top Priority

For organizations interested in learning more about equity and inclusion, the Health Center’s experience points to key elements of progress:

  • Make sure the board and executive director are on-board and in the (shared) driver’s seat
  • Recognize that the effort is an on-going conversation requiring continual attention and action
  • Use board and staff transitions as opportunities for change
  • Diversify the board by adding constituents
  • Be authentic and patient; this is not a program
  • Embed the goal into your mission and into policies and procedures, tracking and celebrating progress

About the Lowell Community Health Center

Lowell Community Health Center’s mission is to provide caring, quality and culturally competent health services to the people of Greater Lowell, regardless of their financial status; to reduce health disparities and enhance the health of the Greater Lowell community; and to empower each individual to maximize their overall well-being.

Lowell CHC is a community-based health care provider that serves more than 50,000 people in Greater Lowell— roughly one out of every two Lowell residents.  Its employees speak 28 different languages, and at least 40 are trained medical interpreters.  In 2000, it opened one of the nation’s first fully integrated East Meets West health care facilities, Metta Health Center, which focuses on Lowell’s Southeast Asian and other refugee populations.  Because Lowell CHC is a federally qualified health center, patients represent 50 percent of board leadership.

About the Parker Foundation’s Equity and Inclusion Initiative

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation favors applications from organizations with balanced representation in staff and management, reflecting constituents served and the diverse community that Lowell has become.  In celebration of the Foundation’s new equity and inclusion initiative, Parker staff Chaletta Huertas and Elizabeth Drewry interviewed a number of grantees to highlight the extraordinary work they are doing to create a more diverse organization that represents the Lowell area’s breadth of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  The Parker Foundation is grateful to the Lowell Community Health Foundation’s Susan West Levine and Sheila Och for their time in crafting this grantee spotlight.

Parker Foundation Approves New Lead Program Officer

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation is pleased to announce Chaletta Huertas as its new Lead Program Officer.  For several years Ms. Huertas has provided staff support to the Foundation alongside the former Lead Program Officer and GMA Foundations Director Philip Hall.  GMA Foundations helps donors define and reach their philanthropic goals with expert advice and comprehensive services.

A graduate of Cornell University, Chaletta Huertas has been a program officer at GMA Foundations since 2008.  Ms. Huertas has helped foundation clients through all stages of their development–from setting up a new grantmaking program to crafting a legacy plan when a foundation sunsets. Along the way, she has guided foundation trustees in creating and fine-tuning their impact measurement systems and exploring innovative program designs.

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker, of Lowell, Massachusetts.  Since the late 1980’s, the foundation has focused its grantmaking in Lowell, which is home to the second largest Cambodian-American population in the United States.  The Parker Foundation board includes Newell Flather (president), Karen H. Carpenter (vice president), David W. Donahue, Jr. (treasurer), Sophy Theam (clerk), and Luis M. Pedroso.  Chaletta Huertas is joined in staffing the Foundation by Philip Hall and Liz Drewry, her colleagues at GMA Foundations. In 2017, the Foundation made grant payments of $1,115,500 in charitable contributions.

The Parker Foundation is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, both in its grantmaking in Lowell and in its governance.  Limited by Mr. Parker’s instrument to a board of five, two of the current trustees are women—Karen Carpenter and Sophy Theam— and two are immigrants—Luis M. Pedroso and, again, Sophy Theam.

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces 2017 Grants

Theodore Edson Parker Foundation Announces 2017 Grants

The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation paid a total of $1,115,500 in grants in 2017 to nonprofit organizations working in Lowell, Massachusetts. In addition to these grants, the Foundation ended the year with $282,000 in pledged grants for likely payment in 2018.

 

The Parker Foundation operates with an open application process and is known for its seed-funding for new organizations, support for program innovations, and the expansion of existing programs. This style of funding accounted for more than 90 percent of the grants portfolio.  Examples of new efforts include:

  • large-scale, start-up support for the Lowell Heritage Partnership and its Lowell Waterways initiative
  • a predevelopment grant to the Coalition for a Better Acre for the creation of an arts and community center at the Smith Baker Center
  • the development of an early education center at United Teen Equality Center
  • a capacity-building grant to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell to expand services to older teens.

Capital support, for facilities renovation, totaled $325,000 and included a final payment of a $1 million pledge to the Lowell Community Health Center for its phase one capital campaign for the Dr. Moses Greeley Parker Health Building.

Health-related grants totaled $345,000 (31 percent), followed by grants to human services organizations (24 percent). Three grants focused on the treatment for substance abuse. The largest of these, to Lowell House, supported the organization’s move into the Lowell Community Health Center. Two grants, to Operation Delta Dog and Veteran’s Legal Services, were aimed at Lowell veterans.

As has been true for years, Foundation places an emphasis on projects serving a diverse constituency, including anchor organizations such as the Coalition for a Better Acre and the Lowell Community Health Center. It seeks to deepen its support for immigrant and underrepresented populations over the next few years. The Foundation initiated a new Diversity Initiative to highlight the importance of diversity within the Foundation, amongst its grantees, and in the larger Lowell community.

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), Karen Carpenter (Vice President), David W. Donahue, Jr. (Treasurer), Sophy Theam (Secretary), and Luis Pedroso. Staffing is provided by GMA Foundations, a Boston-based consulting firm that helps private foundations and other donors increase their impact and efficiency.