Gifts to Island nonprofits make a big ‘impact’

Permanent Endowment funds numerous nonprofits at annual grant ceremony, including new impact awards.


It was all smiles and applause at the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard’s annual grant ceremony as the organization awarded $173,000 to fund projects, initiatives, and equipment at 28 Island nonprofits.

The annual ceremony, which took place at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, awarded nonprofits split into four categories: health, arts, environment, and community. The Permanent Endowment’s executive director, Emily Bramhall, said this year 53 nonprofits applied for more than $560,000 in grant proposals. 

The Permanent Endowment started in 1982 with an initial gift of $60,000. Today it is home to more than 50 funds with a value of more than $12 million. Through the years, the Permanent Endowment has provided $4.3 million in grants and project funding and $3.5 million in scholarships.

Tuesday evening’s grants came from 15 funds such as the Island Fund for the Arts, James P. Cahen Medical Fund, Harriet N. Goldberg Fund, and the Inspiration Fund. Other funds were donor-advised, such as the Joy Fund, which benefits Islanders with disabilities, and the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Driving the Future Fund, which shares proceeds from the Island license plate program.

Each nonprofit was given time to share what its organization is all about and what the grant would be used for.

The Wallace & Co. Sotheby’s International Community Housing Fund was a brand-new donor-advised fund that goes toward supporting housing needs on-Island and was awarded to the Island Network for Homeless Prevention to fund its emergency housing program. 

The list of organizations highlighted many of the issues being addressed on the Island, such as the Island Food Pantry, Good Shepherd Community, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and the Tisbury Council on Aging showed the numerous programs devoted to enriching the arts community and promoting the health of Islanders.

Historically, the Permanent Endowment has awarded grants between $1,000 and $10,000, but wanting to meet the needs of Island nonprofits, this year’s awards featured a new $15,000 to $25,000 range of “impact grants.” 

The first impact grant awarded $16,500 to the Great Pond Foundation to fund a monitoring program to collect data on the biology of the pond. The foundation collects data on the water quality of the pond, but has yet to collect data on the pond’s biodiversity.

“Our local ponds are an incredible natural resource, and we’d like to educate the public on why it’s important to preserve and protect them,” foundation field science coordinator Julie Pringle said.

The last fully funded impact grant was $25,000 to the Island Food Pantry, to help fund the purchase of a refrigerated truck to bring food to the Island.

“When this request was presented to us … Everybody at the board sat and looked at each other and said, ‘That’s it. That’s a very powerful request,’” Bramhall said.

Currently, the food pantry brings 4,000 pounds of food a week to the Island from New Bedford in conjunction with the Greater Boston Food Bank. That food is brought in a unrefrigerated box truck.

“Any of you who have sat in traffic on the Cape in the middle of the summer will know that that is not a particularly sustainable model,” Island Food Pantry executive director Kayte Morris said. “Especially as we’re continuing to focus on fresh and frozen foods, which are by and large more nutritious than shelf stabilized foods.”

The funding is a win-win for other food-based organizations on the Island, such as the Good Shepherd Parish, which will share use of the truck. Speaking to The Times by phone Wednesday, Morris said the organization hopes to have the truck by next summer.

The evening closed out with a birthday celebration for Permanent Endowment board member Kerry Alley. “There is no one who cares more about the people and the work on this Island,” Anne Williamson, board chair, said.