This Law Firm Links Parks and Gardens with Inner-city Education

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Brown Rudnick LLC, an international law firm focused on business law, headquartered in Boston, with additional U.S. offices in Hartford, New York City, Orange County, CA, Providence, and Washington, D.C.

That list is relevant, because those are the only places the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation will grant funds. And the only types of grants it makes are in the realm of education: literacy programs and projects have a clear history of foundation support.

This interest in literacy flows through the foundation's commitment to creating positive social change by supporting inner-city education. It does this through both its Relationship Grants and Community Grants programs.

Relationship Grants is an apt name for the foundation’s larger (in terms of amounts given) program. Through this program the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation not only gives funds, but also provides employee volunteer hours and pro bono legal services—a relationship deeper than a one-shot cash infusion. The term “relationship” can also refer to the fact that virtually all of the grantees under this umbrella are multi-year recipients. For its 2014/15 cohort, only two of the 11 grant recipients were first-time grantees; five of the recipients had received annual awards five or more times.

Relationship Grants are more often awarded to 501(c)(3)s than directly to school districts or individual schools. A recent literacy recipient is the Mark Twain House & Museum, which received $15,000 for its pilot summer reading and writing program based on “Huckleberry Finn,” supporting the attendance of Hartford Capital Preparatory Magnet School 10th graders.

Despite the entrenched relationships built into these Relationship Grants, the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation does have an open LOI process for them, with applications due in March.

But if your literacy project is based in a classroom, your needs are for a one-time specific program, and you can make use of a modest amount, the foundation’s Community Grants are the way to go. Their tagline here is “Front Line Focus,” which neatly encapsulates where and how these smaller amounts ($2,000 maximum) should be directed. The foundation adds:

Although the amount of these grants may seem modest, we have found that the connections that they foster, the activities they encourage and the energy they create, have the potential to unleash countless contributions to improving inner-city education in the communities where we live and work.

Grants given through this program can either be directed by a school or classroom teacher, or otherwise by a 501(c)(3) that is partnering with a school to “recognize, encourage and collaborate with the front-line workers within the educational system who often do not have a voice in funding decisions.” The projects also need to be “concrete,” and its inner-city education focus narrows down further—limited to Boston, Hartford, New York City, Providence and Washington, D.C., (taking Orange County, CA, out of the mix).

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation has shown that it’s very open as far as the subjects and activities it will fund—as well as how those funds will be used—so long as they're classroom-driven, one-time projects (rather than ongoing programming).

Literacy projects prevail here, including these grantees:

  • Roxbury Preparatory Charter School (Boston, MA) to purchase books for its "Drop Everything and Read, Read Aloud" program
  • School of the Future (New York, NY) to purchase nonfiction books, two computers, and two Livescribe pens for its differentiated reading learning program
  • Imagine Hope Lamond Public Charter School (Washington, DC) to purchase and implement its "Handwriting without Tears" curriculum in three preschool classes
  • The Reservoir Avenue School (Providence, RI) to purchaseKindles for summer book clubs for the school's struggling readers
  • The Hartford Public Library (Hartford, CT) for its "Literacy Tub" Program, which "ensures that children throughout Hartford have equitable access to materials that aid school readiness and grade level reading"
  • John Winthrop School (Boston, MA) to purchase reading materials for 3rd and 4th grade special education students.

The Community Grants program is an online open application, with considerations made monthly.


Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation: Grants for Early Childhood Education