$228,500 awarded in grants

Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation provides funds for 27 organizations.

Harbor Homes women's shelter is one of the recipients of grant funding for a laundry room. — Rich Saltzberg

For the second year in a row, the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation has awarded its annual funds without the benefit of an event, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But while the event isn’t happening, the foundation, formerly the Permanent Endowment, is distributing $228,500 to 27 Island organizations “that enrich and nourish the community,” according to a press release.

 “This has been a challenging year, requiring the foundation to move quickly and strategically to meet community needs and help finance important opportunities,” Emily Bramhall, executive director, said in a press release. “This annual grant cycle saw not only pandemic-related requests due to increased numbers at community suppers and innovative solutions to food security, such as West Tisbury Library’s plans to open a community pantry and refrigerator, but also requests for vital, ongoing, important work of our many nonprofits related to environmental studies, climate change, education, afterschool programs, health initiatives, and more.” 

There were also three impact grants awarded: 

  • $25,000 to Harbor Homes to build a laundry room, to serve residents of the women’s house and other homeless individuals or families.
  • $15,000 to Island Elderly Housing to construct fully accessible pathways for residents to enjoy their community garden at Woodside Village.
  • $15,000 to M.V. Hospital Case Management, to support those with high-risk pregnancies who need to spend significant time off-Island for their medical care. 

In addition, several organizations in this grant cycle focused on expanding or solidifying their mission. For example, $10,000 was awarded to Friends of Family Planning to provide office space to accommodate visiting medical care providers. Other community grants included the following:


  • $10,000 to the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club to fund the afterschool STEAM program;
  • $10,000 to the Great Pond Foundation to preserve the history of Tisbury Great Pond;
  • Two grants to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission: $8,000 to study cyanobacteria, and $10,000 to support Climate Action Week;
  • $10,000 to Mass Audubon/Felix Neck to build a garden at the Center for Living with the MVRHS Voyagers; 
  • $6,400 to Sassafras Earth Education to provide financial aid for students and to construct a wood shed.

As in past grant cycles, Wallace & Co. Community Housing Fund and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Driving the Future Fund participated in the process, awarding their donor-advised funds of $31,000 and $20,000 respectively.

In addition to the annual grant cycle, the foundation in 2021 made a number of grants that either met the special needs of the times, or presented unique and time-sensitive opportunities. 

Noteworthy off-cycle grants included $25,000 to the Martha’s Vineyard Fisherman’s Preservation Trust, which supported the return of a wholesale fish market in Menemsha; $9,000 to Healthy Aging M.V. to conduct an elder transportation study; $18,000 from the Land Protection Fund to Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation to cover ancillary costs related to conserving Red Gate Farm; and $17,000 to Community Ambassadors Partnership to train and pay the salaries of interpreters to better communicate with the Brazilian community. 

“Not only are we here for our annual grant cycle, all year we have responded to urgent needs in the community,” Bramhall said in the release.

The Community Foundation has distributed over $820,000 to the Island community so far this year through its regular and special grant requests, as well as its ongoing emergency and rental relief funding. 

“This has been both the most taxing and, possibly, the most rewarding 20 months for the foundation,” Isabelle Lew, chair of the board, said in the release. “The needs of our community were often urgent, and we saw firsthand how nonprofits answered with ingenuity, commitment, and shared purpose. It should give everyone a renewed respect for the work that goes on here, often unheralded and behind-the-scenes.”

Grants supporting the environment totaled $50,400, and were awarded to BiodiversityWorks, to support beach-nesting-bird educational materials; Great Pond Foundation, for collecting data from Tisbury Great Pond; Mass Audubon/Felix Neck, in support of building gardens at M.V. Center for Living; M.V. Commission, for Climate Week and cyanobacteria toxicity research; Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, to support TrailsMV app upgrades; and both Friends of Sengekontacket and Lagoon Pond Association, for each of their respective summer internship programs.

Grants supporting the community totaled $121,400, and were awarded to Animal Shelter of M.V., for vet bill support for elders in need; First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, for its community supper programs; FUEL, Inc., for Island students to sail aboard the Shenandoah; Good Shepherd Parish, for Community Suppers; Harbor Homes M.V., to build a laundry room for its residents; Island Elderly Housing, for increased community garden access; Island Housing Trust, to support the Old Courthouse Way project; M.V. Boys & Girls Club, to support the afterschool program; Red Stocking Fund, for winter boots for 300 children; Rental Relief Fund, for rental assistance for Islanders impacted by the pandemic; Sail MV, to support the MVRHS Maritime Studies program; Sassafras Earth Education, to support their afterschool program; and West Tisbury Library Foundation, to support its community fridge project.

Grants supporting the arts totaled $6,500, and were awarded to M.V. Chamber Music Society, to provide Island students the opportunity to play in the Cape Symphony Youth Orchestra; and M.V. Film Center, for replacement theater equipment.

Grants supporting health services totaled $50,200, and were awarded to ACE MV, for tuition support towards Certified Nursing Assistant training; Friends of Family Planning, to provide office space to accommodate visiting care providers; M.V. Hospital, to support those with high-risk pregnancies, to assist patients with their medical costs, and to purchase 2 Spot Vital Signs monitors; and MV Public Schools, to purchase subscriptions to the CALM app for teachers and support staff.