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Waldron Charitable Fund Awards $1 Million in Grants to Counter Impact of School Closings

Grants were awarded to organizations nationwide that support the needs of underserved children

The Waldron Charitable Fund has awarded $1 million in rapid response grants to organizations that are meeting the health, nutrition, and special education needs of underserved children in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and school closings. According to a press release issued by the Boston Foundation, grants totaling as much as $50,000 apiece were given to 47 organizations. 

The Waldron Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund housed at the Boston Foundation, released a call for proposals on March 16. By the March 20 deadline, more than 1,000 applications had been submitted. Volunteers evaluated applications against a rubric designed to ensure that grant recipients had strong plans of action and that they were positioned to serve as many children as possible.

Rob Waldron, CEO of edtech company Curriculum Associates, and Jennifer Waldron, who works with the education nonprofit uAspire, co-manage The Waldron Charitable Fund. They are deeply committed professionally and personally to supporting educational success and equity for students nationwide.

 In a statement, Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, said, “The Waldrons are demonstrating how donors can partner with community foundations to respond quickly and decisively to urgent needs. And, because they’re focusing their philanthropy on an area where they have expertise, they can be a model for other donors who are eager to meet the urgent needs, but aren’t sure exactly when or how to direct their contributions.”

It has only been two weeks since the grant opportunity was announced, but the Waldron Fund has already distributed nearly all $1 million in funding. ”We had to move as quickly as possible because schools provide much more than academics,” Rob said. “For underserved and special needs students, they deliver critical resources: meals, technology, mental and emotional health services. Local organizations are already entrenched in communities; they already understand them and their needs, so they’re the ones that are best positioned to act decisively and swiftly.”

Grant recipients are spread throughout the country. The Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Texas received $40,000 to provide dinner, snacks, weekend snack bags, and supplemental educational resources to Texas children. The Boston-Thurmond Community Network in Winston-Salem, N.C., also received funding for food and enrichment materials and will use its $25,000 grant to support children in low-income housing.

Recipients include several organizations in Massachusetts, which is where the Waldrons live and Curriculum Associates is headquartered. The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, for example, received a grant to support the installation of nearly 200 Wi-Fi hotspots that will facilitate Internet access for remote learning.

In the announcement for the grants, the Waldrons expressed hope that it would inspire others to also seek out ways they, too, can help. Now that funds have been disbursed, they point to the huge number of applications received as evidence that many are in need. “There’s a lot that’s uncertain right now, but we know that people require help. Support doesn’t have to be monetary. People are going to the grocery store for their neighbors, sewing masks for hospitals—even something as simple as helping a teacher use a video app makes a difference. We hope, even more than before, that others will be inspired to do what they can to be there for their communities.”

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