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Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund awards $19,300 to local causes

Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 06:02

TNSF

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The Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund (TNSF) recently awarded $19,300 in grants to local causes near Tufts’ Medford, Grafton and Boston campuses.

Recipients of the donations, all non-profit organizations, included the Somerville Public Library, the Somerville Homeless Coalition, the Community Harvest Project and St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen, according to Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel.

The funds were raised throughout the year by the university’s faculty, staff and administrators on all three campuses, according to Ange Brome, the chair of TNSF and an applications administrator at Tufts Dental School in Boston.

The program began in 1995 and has raised as much as $20,000 in one year, with an $18,000 annual average, according to Rubel.

“Each year, during Tufts’ annual giving campaign, the Tufts Community Appeal, faculty and staff have the opportunity to donate to many different charitable organizations, and TNSF is one of the giving options,” Rubel told the Daily in an email.

Rubel said that the checks for 2013 were sent out in mid-January to 22 recipient organizations. These regularly include food pantries in each community, as well as Boys & Girls Clubs, the Medford Council on Aging, the Wang Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Chinatown and the Medford Family Resource Coalition.

“Each fall, community organizations are invited to apply for grants,” Rubel said. “The TNSF committee reviews the proposals and allocates all of the funds raised in the previous year. Since many faculty and staff donate through payroll deduction, their contributions are not complete until the end of the year.”

The fund grants a maximum amount of $2,000 per recipient, according to Brome

“They usually apply for anywhere from $100 to around $2,000, and sometimes even ask for more,” Brome said. “We try to award it to as many organizations as possible, but the number of applications we get always outnumber the amount we have available.”

Each non-profit organization applies for a specific amount of money to be allocated toward a project of their choice, which must be approved by the TNSF.

“The applicants tell us what they are looking for in detail,” Brome said. “For example, a school might need art supplies for a specific project, and they would break down exactly where the money would go. Then the group will decide whether or not we can fund this project, based on necessity.”

One of last year’s largest beneficiaries was the Somerville Homeless Coalition (SHC), which plans on using their grant to purchase a community washer and dryer, according to SHC Executive Director Mark Alston-Follansbee

“This will cover the majority of the cost for a new laundry machine in our adult shelter,” he said.

According to Alston-Follansbee, Tufts has maintained a close relationship with the SHC over the years. 

“We were founded in 1985 with just two paid staff members and mostly Tufts volunteers,” he said. “Tufts students would make sure everyone in the shelter was safe. We are also very connected to the [Leonard] Carmichael [Society] Food Rescue, which supplies us with extra food.”

Although students do not work directly with TNSF, Brome said that long-term relationships between student groups and local non-profits help determine which organizations will receive donations.

“One of the criteria we look for is whether Tufts students volunteer for a given organization,” she said. “That usually is a big flag for us to consider them, and we generally will give to those projects with our students involved.”

Rubel said that to be eligible, each organization must serve Tufts’ host communities and engage students, faculty and alumni, in addition to having an existing relationship with the university.

“While the grants are often small, community non-profits know how to stretch a dollar,” she said. “In these difficult times when many funding sources are no longer available, TNSF funds are greatly appreciated.”

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