Grantmaking Priorities

The Island Foundation’s grant priorities fall within four major categories: Environment, New Bedford, Alternative Education, and Global. The Foundation supports projects in coastal areas of Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island and selected international locations.

For the last two decades, the Foundation has focused a significant portion of its financial resources on Southeastern Massachusetts, where its office is located. Here the Board seeks to understand how communities grow sustainably and equitably, how to increase educational opportunities, how rural and urban economies are intertwined, and how to best protect working landscapes and the people who rely upon these areas for their livelihoods. In funding in a few specific areas, the Board believes it will have the most impact.  



In Southeastern Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island, the Island Foundation promotes the conservation of marine and coastal resources. For many years, the Foundation has given priority to North Atlantic right whale research, protection of coastal waterbird habitat, and preservation of coastal lands.

More recently, the Board has been interested in new initiatives that:

New Bedford

The Foundation works with organizations that promote progressive social change and combat discrimination in all its forms in New Bedford. In this historic city, the Foundation supports youth programs, community development, arts and culture, and basic needs. The Foundation funds groups that have community-wide recognition and support and demonstrate a positive vision for the present and future of New Bedford.

Within the New Bedford program area, the Board currently seeks proposals addressing:

Alternative Education

The Island Foundation supports a limited number of experiential education programs, after-school programs, and alternative education schools. Drawing on its tradition of seeking alternative and unconventional approaches, the Island Foundation looks for informal and school-based programs that connect young people to their natural world, foster an appreciation for community service, and respect individuals with diverse backgrounds and learning styles. Maritime trades, hands-on marine education, and programs that increase access and opportunity for at-risk youth are of particular interest. 


Womxn and Girls

The Island Foundation works with organizations addressing root causes of inequality for womxn and girls in the United States. The Foundation works to strengthen and support the work of womxn- and girls-led and focused organizations across sectors and funding interests, particularly for womxn and girls of color. The Foundation supports intergenerational collaborations and organizations at the forefront of innovation and systems change for gender equity and inclusion.

On the path to equality, the Foundation currently seeks proposals for initiatives that: