Watertown Community Foundation Gets Biggest Grant Ever, Using it to Support 3 Organizations

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The Watertown Community Foundation will help three local organizations with grants over $100,000 after the foundation received the largest grant in its history.

The money will go to Metro West Collaborative Development, Watertown Boys & Girls Club, and Wayside Youth and Family Support Network.

The funds came to the Watertown Community Foundation in a grant from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Community Foundations Grant Program for COVID-19 Relief.

“This $400,000 grant is the largest single grant that our foundation has ever received,” said WCF co-president Darshna Varia. “We have been able to distribute the funds quickly and directly to where they are needed most. We are so grateful to our partners for their dedication to our community.”

The grants will be used in the following ways, according to the Foundation:

Metro West Collaborative Development has helped with emergency rental assistance needs due to underemployment and back rent payments. Program participants earn less than 30% of the area median income, or about $25,000. Without this assistance, these households face eviction and possibly homelessness due to their inability to locate new housing.

Wayside Youth and Family Support Services has been able to respond to Watertown residents needing financial assistance for basic needs including food, rent, and utility bills. They continue to address this financial strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects including loss of income, reduced working hours, inability to work because of contracting COVID-19, or caretaking of a family member with COVID-19.

The Watertown Boys and Girls Club offers both school day academic support to students not engaged in in-person learning as well as summer camp scholarships. This has allowed parents and guardians to work and know their child is in a safe and supportive environment. Students are able to get help with their academic assignments, and experience peer-to-peer interactions, as well as interactions with trained youth development professionals.

Watertown was one of 14 communities to receive the grants. The Foundation was eligible for the funds, which were part of the Federal CARES Act, after joining the Massachusetts Community Foundation Partnership last summer, said WCF Executive Director Jan Singer.

“We were invited by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to apply for grants to support community-based organizations in our geographic reach,” Singer said. “Community Foundations know the needs of their neighbors and are able to get funding to the right groups quickly.”

The process of getting the grant was a rigorous one, said Singer, who learned in November that the WCF would receive the award.

“WCF created an application process for the organizations in Watertown that we knew were large enough to handle the required reporting,” Singer said. “We have worked very closely with the three groups and continue to hold Community Resilience Fund Task Force meetings monthly. We are expecting another call for application in the next month to support residents in need of food security.”

The Watertown Community Foundation has been able to help alleviate the financial impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in town since the spring of 2020.

“In addition to the $400,000, we have distributed another $200,000 since last April with an expectation of distributing another $400,000-$500,000 before the end of 2021,” Singer said.

The grants have been, and will continue to be, used to support low-income households for rental assistance, utility payments, transportation, and technical support, along with childcare, and food expenses, according to the Foundation.

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