Activation Fund Grants

Since 2000, The Health Foundation has made $10.8 million in grants for 173 projects through the Activation Fund.

Below are lists of Activation Fund grants since 2015.

Abby’s House received a $120,000 grant for accessibility-related renovations to its overnight shelter for homeless women and children in Worcester, a component of a larger effort to convert the shelter to a non-congregate model and expand its capacity from nine to 18 beds.

Boston Area Gleaners received a $81,500 grant for the purchase of a refrigerated truck to help facilitate expansion of its farm crop gleaning, surplus food recovery, and distribution services into Worcester County.

Building Futures received a $105,213 grant for purchase of furniture, appliances and supplies to equip its 24-unit permanent supportive housing development in Worcester called “A Place to Live” aimed to serve the chronically homeless population.

Camp Starfish received a $110,000 grant to replace an unusable basketball court and tennis courts at its year-round campsite serving children and young adults from Central Massachusetts with emotional, behavioral, social, and learning challenges, enhancing access to recreational activities and team sports and supporting overall well-being.

Employment Options received a $70,935 grant for commercial kitchen equipment to launch a new culinary workforce training program for individuals with mental illness participating in its Clubhouse program in Fitchburg.

GAAMHA received a $130,000 grant for room furnishings and kitchen equipment to outfit a new 32-bed recovery home for women with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders in Athol.

Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center received a $110,000 grant for purchase and installation of an elevator to ensure ADA accessibility at its new 44-unit, affordable housing development for low-income veterans and their families in Winchendon.

Project Just Because received a $120,000 grant for the purchase of a freezer trailer to significantly increase the organization’s capacity to accept, store and distribute donations of protein, dairy products and fresh produce to support food-insecure individuals and families and other local food pantries.

Regional Environmental Council received a $95,400 grant for warehouse renovations to increase the capacity of its Mobile Farmers Market program, connecting more food-insecure residents of Worcester, Southbridge, and Webster with healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant produce.

Southeast Asian Coalition of Central MA received a $120,403 grant for purchase and installation of equipment to create an indoor hydroponic mushroom farm at the agency’s headquarters in Worcester and build the capacity of its Food Security program that caters to the cultural needs of clients.

Community Health Center of Franklin County received a $88,340 grant for buildout of office space to maximize patient care and outcomes at its North Quabbin facility, which serves more than 3,500 patients per year.

GAAMHA received a $61,000 grant for installation of a new roof and windows at Pathway House, a 27-bed residential program for adult men with substance use disorders, which serves an average of 70 individuals annually. 

Guild of St Agnes received a $118,000 grant to construct a 3,000 S.F. outdoor playground at its new state-of-the-art childcare facility and higher education learning lab on Mill Street in Worcester.


Making Opportunity Count received a $120,000 grant to build out space for a new Family Health clinic in Fitchburg offering no-cost/low-cost sexual and reproductive health care for people in the North Central region.  

Milford Youth Center received a $115,250 grant for replacement of the HVAC and steam unit heating systems for the gym and basement areas of its facility to address air quality issues and increase operating efficiency. 


Restoration Recovery Center received a $33,562 grant to build capacity of its Recovery Coaching program by formalizing a partnership with a local behavioral health center for referrals and third-party billing, and for purchase of related software to enhance data collection and reporting capabilities.


Thrive Support & Advocacy received a $50,998 grant for furnishings and equipment to enable expansion of its Family Support Center in Worcester to include a new allergen-sensitive food pantry and additional space for after-school, recreational and vocational programming.


Western Mass Training Consortium received a $67,627 grant for furnishings and technology to equip a new facility housing its Recovery Center of HOPE, a peer-led recovery program in the Quaboag region.

World Farmers received a $120,000 grant for buildout of a new food aggregation and distribution hub adjacent to its main office in Lancaster to meet growing demand for its Community Supported Agriculture program and general wholesale operations selling cultural crops throughout the region.

YOU, Inc. received a $56,795 grant for translation services and culturally aligned tools to equip a Bi-Lingual Welcome Center at the co-located Behavioral Health Center and Family Resource Center in Southbridge aimed to increase accessibility of services for people with limited English proficiency.

Youth Villages received a $67,573 grant for upfront costs associated with scaling its Intercept for Emergency Diversion program in Central Massachusetts, addressing the issue of youth boarding in hospitals as they wait for inpatient psychiatric beds.

Building Futures received a $59,250 grant for equipment to expand its Terraponics Program, a method of growing organic produce year-round using tiered racks, benefitting Worcester Housing Authority residents and helping to promote healthy eating and address food insecurity.

Catholic Charities of Worcester County received a $75,000 grant for facility renovations for its Crozier House ¾ Graduate Program, providing housing for men with substance use disorders upon completion of residential treatment. 


Community Health Connections received a $100,000 grant for buildout of four urgent care rooms at its new Community Health Center in Gardner that will also offer primary care, dental, and behavioral health services.


Girls Inc. received a $41,882 grant to purchase equipment and furniture for transformation of a large meeting hall into smaller classrooms to expand program capacity and better accommodate work in small groups, which is more conducive for addressing social-emotional needs of participants.

Guild of St. Agnes received a $90,000 grant for renovation of its childcare center in Gardner, which provides quality, affordable, early education and school-age programs for children from 15 months to 12 years of age.

Lovin’ Spoonfuls received a $75,000 grant for purchase of a refrigerated truck to enable expansion of its perishable food rescue and redistribution program into Worcester County to address food insecurity.

Photo credit: Tréa Lavery of Mass Live

Mount Wachusett Community College received a $73,903 grant to upgrade sterilization equipment at its dental education clinic located within the Community Health Connections Community Health Center in Fitchburg.


Viability received a $15,350 grant to purchase exercise equipment for its accredited Tradewinds Clubhouse in Southbridge, which provides vocational and life skills training and social support for people experiencing mental illness. 

Building Futures received a $49,998 grant for facility and technology upgrades to the Worcester Housing Authority’s Youth Center in Great Brook Valley, which provides youth ages 5-14 with tutoring and homework help.


CENTRO received a $50,000 grant to hire a community health worker to assess the needs of people using its food pantry and refer them to other services CENTRO offers if they are eligible.

Christopher House of Worcester received a $39,082 grant for a program to enhance the skills of its first line managers and train peer mentors with the goal of reducing the turnover rates of both nurses and certified nursing assistants.


The Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center received a $60,000 grant for four dental chairs as part of its plans to expand its Milford site to include dental services, optometry and a 340B pharmacy. 

Genesis Club received a $40,000 grant to create a “virtual clubhouse” to enable Genesis Club to reach out to people recovering from mental illness who cannot access its physical location, allowing people to access clubhouse services remotely.

Jeffrey’s House received a $23,772 grant for the installation of sprinklers in three sober living houses it operates in Fitchburg and for accessibility renovations in two of the houses.

Living in Freedom Together (LIFT) received a $19,000 grant for the installation of sprinklers at its residential home for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation.

LUK, Inc. received a $50,000 grant to support telebehavioral health services for students in middle and high schools in Central Massachusetts.

NEADS World Class Service Dogs received a $50,000 grant for the construction of its Behavioral Check List space to test puppies to determine their eligibility to enter NEADS training  programs as Service Dogs.


Open Sky Community Services received a $45,777 grant to expand telepsychiatry services in its group homes by installing and enhancing telehealth technology.

Quinsigamond Community College received a $70,790 grant to upgrade instructional equipment in their Radiologic Technology program to better prepare students for their clinical rotations and entering the workforce.

Seven Hills Family Services received a $49,620 grant to upgrade AV equipment in order to record, edit and translate training sessions offered at its family support centers in Worcester, Fitchburg and Sturbridge so that families who cannot attend the sessions can access them online at their convenience.

The South Middlesex Opportunity Council received a $50,000 grant for the pre-development costs associated with converting the second floor of a building in Worcester into a 50-bed permanent emergency shelter facility.

Worcester Common Ground (WCG) received a $100,000 grant to install a rooftop greenhouse on an affordable housing project WCG is developing in Worcester which will allow residents to grow produce for themselves and their families.


Abby’s House received a $75,012 grant for its community partnerships project to identify unmet advocacy and health needs of clients and to expand existing collaborations.

Ascentria Community Services received a $81,600 grant for the Immigration Legal Assistance Program to expand its low-cost legal services program from limited to full representation in immigration matters.

Community Legal Aid received a $86,482 grant to hire a housing attorney who will represent tenants in cases where attorney’s fees can be collected.

Friendly House received a $34,160 grant for a refrigerated van to transport meals for its After School and Summer Meals Program for low-income children.


GAAMHA received a $43,288 grant to hire a part-time Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) clinician for its community-based day programs located in Gardner and Orange. The grant will be used to recruit, hire, and support a part-time PBS clinician for the first year while the individual is being trained and ramping up towards sustaining the position through third-party billing.

LUK, Inc. received a $104,648 grant to implement telehealth for the first time in order to increase access to behavioral health services and family visitations in the North Central area and assisting Community Health Connections in doing the same.

Neighbor to Neighbor received a $100,800 grant to ramp up their door-to-door grassroots organizing to assist in complete counts for the 2020 Census and reengage the local community as it reestablishes itself in Worcester after leaving the city in 2016.

The Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation received a $28,000 grant to train three staff members in order to provide first-time home-buyer assistance to expand its offerings related to financial skills building.

Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) received a $45,809 grant to develop and implement an oral health career pathway for students in Dental Assisting Programs at three local secondary and post-secondary schools into the Dental Hygiene Program at QCC.

Seven Hills ASPiRE! received a $109,903 grant to create a new workforce training program with sustainable farming as a potential career path for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The South Middlesex Opportunity Council received a $84,000 grant to install an automatic fire sprinkler system to a new sober house in Fitchburg that will create new single room occupancy units for 14 low-income homeless or formerly homeless single unaccompanied adults (male and female) in recovery.


The Athol Area YMCA received a $68,000 grant to renovate its men’s residence center to increase its capacity to provide stable and affordable short-term and long-term housing for men by increasing the number of rooms, updating bathroom facilities, and installing a kitchen and laundry area.


Athol YMCA completes Men’s Residence renovations

Catholic Charities Worcester County received a $75,000 grant to install a fire suppression system and an ADA-compliant bathroom as part of renovations to open a 20-bed substance abuse recovery home for unaccompanied women in Leominster.


Catholic Charities opens Women’s Recovery Program

Community Health Connections received a $100,000 grant to create an in-house dental prosthetics laboratory to increase access and training opportunities in the Fitchburg area.


Community Healthlink received a $65,000 grant to hire a full-time registered nurse to expand access to office-based opioid treatment at the Worcester Counseling Center for patients seen at Community Healthlink’s Urgent Care center.

Employment Options received a $30,000 grant to hire a part-time prep chef to increase the capacity of its Catering Options social enterprise for individuals with mental health conditions in the MetroWest area.

Genesis Club received a $50,000 grant to collaborate with Open Sky Community Services to coordinate care for individuals with serious mental illness who are eligible for the Central Community Health Partnership, a community partner approved to work with MassHealth Accountable Care Organizations.

Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester received a $30,000 grant to purchase a box truck with shelving for tools, equipment, and materials to support its Critical Home Repair program.


Habitat for Humanity Gets Donation for Truck

Jeremiah’s Inn received a $100,000 grant for furnishings and fixtures for a Massachusetts Alliance of Sober Housing certified sober housing program being launched in Worcester.

NEADS World Class Service Dogs received a $60,544 grant to purchase a new handicap accessible van to be used to safely transport clients and service dogs/puppies for training and veterinary care.


NEADS receives grant for handicap accessible van.

The Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation received a $37,500 grant to purchase pottery wheels, signage, marketing, and initial staffing for the launch of a pottery studio as part of the redevelopment of a downtown building block to revitalize downtown Ware and create jobs and healthy activities.


Ware River News- ClayWorks & ArtWorks

Riverside Community Care received a $100,000 grant to construct new offices to house four additional child clinicians to increase access to mental health services for children and adolescents in South Central Massachusetts.

As I See It: We deserve easy access to behavioral health services

The Southbridge Public Schools received a $100,000 grant to hire a district-level Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) expert for one year to work with principals, school-based PBIS coaches, teachers, and staff on this program aimed at improving academic and social behavior outcomes for students.[/expandsub2]

The Shine Initiative received a $57,000 grant to enhance its website and develop social media tools to promote mental health education and increase scalability for its programs related to mental health and wellness for youth and adults.

Life coach Tanya Brown to speak at SHINE gala for mental health awareness

Shine Initiative creates mental health app to reach youth on their phones

World Farmers received a $99,805 grant to construct a mill house to house a commercial-grade food mill for immigrant and refugee farmers to produce milled value-added products for personal consumption and for sale.


The YWCA of Central Massachusetts received a $95,000 grant to add a Pre-Kindergarten classroom to increase its pre-school student capacity and enhance its preschool STEM programming to meet the demand for quality childcare in Worcester, especially for underserved children.


Abby’s House received a $75,000 grant for its Thrift Shop, which directly subsidizes its shelter, housing, and advocacy programs. The project included engaging a retail consultant to improve store design and layout, purchasing new shelves/racks and storage systems, putting in new counter space and cash registers, and installing a security system.


Advocates, Inc. received a $57,365 grant for the Hudson-Sudbury Jail Diversion Program. It is a partnership between Advocates and the Hudson and Sudbury Police Departments which work to divert Hudson or Sudbury residents with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders from the criminal justice system to the behavioral health system for treatment. This project also received $20,300 from the Sudbury Foundation.

Jail Diversion Program Expanding to Sudbury, Hudson

Arms with Ethics received a $55,500 grant to work with the Worcester Police Department and the Worcester medical community to facilitate temporary safe storage for gun owners to prevent someone with mental health or substance abuse problems from accessing a gun.

GAAMHA received a $98,275 grant to open a Supportive Housing Program for Women in Gardner, an area with high unmet need, that would provide housing, a safe environment, and case management for women with substance use disorders. This grant funded renovations to the residential home and operating and program costs for the first year.


Recovering abuser recalls plea: ‘I need help or I am going to die’

Heywood Hospital received a $92,976 grant to establish a licensed Community Mental Health Center at its Quabbin Retreat facility, which will offer a full continuum of financially accessible substance abuse and behavioral health services to youth and adults.

HMEA received a $65,000 grant to pilot its Autism Advantage at Work program, which served adults with autism in Central Massachusetts and helped train and retain them in employment at Dell/EMC as well as other local companies. The program has been renamed Neurodiversity @ Work.

Neurodiversity @ Work SUCCESS STORIES (Video)
CNN Interview with Brian Reaves, Dell Tech Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer (Video)

The Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network received a $20,000 grant to repair the roof of its family homeless shelter in Leominster. The shelter provides food, clothing, family support, case management and educational training to homeless families with children. It can serve 5 families at any given time.

The Barton Center for Diabetes Education received a $67,000 grant to update electronic recording of the blood glucose data of its campers with type 1 diabetes. The update included improved internet connectivity and tablets/laptops to ensure that campers’ blood glucose levels can be monitored in a timely and accurate fashion.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Project in Worcester received a $45,600 grant to renovate a training room to enable remote training for new and existing volunteers. CASA recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers who are appointed by a judge to serve as advocates to abused and neglected children in the Worcester County Juvenile Court.


Veterans Inc. received a $55,800 grant to establish the systems necessary for third-party reimbursement for Independence Hall, its substance abuse treatment facility for veterans and non-veterans in Shrewsbury.

The Worcester Community Action Council received a $62,000 grant to develop and implement the Bank On program model to address the high number of unbanked and underbanked individuals in Worcester County. Bank On brings together community-based organizations, local government, and financial institutions to collectively address the needs of those striving to rise out of poverty and improve financial health.

Bank On Worcester County to offer low-cost checking accounts as entry to financial system

The Activation Fund was closed in 2016.

The Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board received a $84,400 grant to reposition the Workforce Central Career Centers (WCCC) in Worcester, Milford and Southbridge as a resource that connects people to careers and helps businesses efficiently find the talent they need. The new model involved a new service design and better data management system to allow WCCC to improve their services to employers and job-seekers.

Community Harvest Project received a $100,000 grant to implement a high density fruit tree planting system and add other fruit trees to increase the amount of fresh fruit Community Harvest Project can donate to food programs serving low income families and individuals in Worcester County.

Employment Options received a $78,000 grant to increase the capacity of Catering Options, a social enterprise that trains and employs disadvantaged, unemployed residents recovering from mental illness in the culinary, food service and hospitality industries. Funds will be used to hire a Business Development Manager and renovate their existing kitchen to be able to support the additional business.


GAAMHA received a $39,499 grant to renovate a space in Orange that enabled them to provide community-based day services to individuals with cognitive/developmental disabilities and autism in this region. Funds were also used for the acquisition of furnishings and materials and to pay the rent on the space for one year.

HMEA received a $56,700 grant to increase the number of staff providing Applied Behavior Analysis and respite care for children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Latin American Health Alliance received a $89,203 grant to expand the catering component of Cafe Reyes which provides an ongoing job training pipeline for the clients of the Hector Reyes House, a residential substance abuse recovery program for Latino males.

MassEdCO received a $73,700 grant to expand their On Our Way program to Fitchburg, Leominster and Southbridge, all areas that are dealing with rates of teen pregnancies that are significantly higher than the state average. On Our Way emphasizes a teen mother’s education/career preparation and achievement while ensuring that her child’s needs and her own parenting needs are being met.

NewVue Communities received a $50,000 grant to establish the Housing Stability Program. The goal was to reduce evictions by providing services such as financial coaching, income support programs, health insurance access, etc. to vulnerable families that will reduce the likelihood that they will default on their rent.

The St. John’s Food for the Poor Program received a $100,000 grant to construct an addition to their existing facility. The addition provided increased storage space, including increased refrigeration capacity. This allowed St. John’s to more than double the amount of perishable and non-perishable food that they can distribute.


Worcester Community Housing Resources (WCHR) received a $85,000 grant to renovate an empty storefront at 795 Main Street. WCHR leased the space to the Urban Missioner Program of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts for three years to run a community outreach center providing community activities and services.


Working For Worcester, a student-led, volunteer organization based at Holy Cross, received a $29,114 grant to start chapters of this organization at four other colleges/universities in the city.