Apply for a Grant

The 2019 Summer Fund application has closed. The application for 2020 funding will be available in January.


The maximum grant to first year recipients is generally $5,000 per site. Current Summer Fund grantees may request up to $40,000 per site, but not more than 25% of the camp/program operating budget (30% for multi-site programs). Factors that will determine funding levels will be the amount requested, presentation of need, the number of campers served, special needs of the population served, and/or proposals submitted by a collaboration of organizations. Camps must seek summer funding from a variety of sources to diversify income revenue and reduce the dependency on the Summer Fund.


To be considered eligible for funding from the Summer Fund, programs must meet the following eligibility requirements:

IRS 501(c)(3): The private nonprofit agency serving as the fiscal sponsor for the camp must have been determined to be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service.

Camp Minimum Standards: All camps should meet American Camp Association (ACA) guidelines and the requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In the event the camp primarily serves youth from Boston, Cambridge, Somerville or Chelsea, and is located in a different state, the camp should meet the ACA guidelines and the appropriate requirements in their state. Day Camps should be licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health or the Department of Early Education and Care. Camps are required to submit a copy of their most recent camp permit along with the proposal application. If in the process of applying for a permit, grants will be made on a conditional basis pending verification of a valid permit.

Geography: The Summer Fund primarily serves at-risk and underserved youth (6-18 years old) from Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Chelsea.

Use of Funds: Awarded funds are intended for camp operational expenses, not capital improvements. Neither summer school programs nor individuals are eligible for funding.

Non-sectarian programming: Camps sponsored by religious organizations are eligible, provided the enrollment is open to all youth and that activities are free of mandatory religious instruction, worship, or other sectarian activities.

Years of Operation: Applicant Camps must have two full years of operations to be considered.

Staff Training: Camps must offer at least two days of training in advance of camp start date.

Financial Support to Participants: Must offer camper scholarships, a sliding fee scale, or be free of charge to all participants.


Competitive applications will meet the following selection criteria:

Response to Community Need:
The Summer Fund will give priority to organizations that have a demonstrated presence in underserved and/or under resourced communities. The Summer Fund will review enrollment data in order to determine the cities and neighborhoods that your organization primarily serves. We want to ensure that grant resources are being distributed in a way that is commensurate with observed levels of poverty and need in the Fund’s catchment area of Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, and Somerville.

Program Design:

  • Offer experiential education activities
  • Have financial, leadership, and governance structures in place that point to long-term sustainability
  • Offer an open registration process (i.e. registration is not restricted to children participating in school-year program)
  • Determine programming schedules in advance with adequate, alternative rainy day activities
  • Offer suitable hours for working parents
  • Offer programming that emphasizes social & emotional wellness
  • Provide breakfast/lunch, or lunch/snack for eligible children
  • Make strong efforts to recruit a diverse group of both campers and staff
  • Encourage children with physical and/or emotional disabilities to engage in program activities along with other children (i.e. inclusive)
  • Serve a minimum of 20 youth per session

Initiative Involvement:
The Summer Fund relies on strong engagement from its partners in order to ensure that the Homeless Campership Fund, Teen Leadership Institute, and Cultural Access Initiative continue to operate effectively. Organizations that have demonstrated engagement in the Summer Fund’s three strategic initiatives will receive priority consideration in funding decisions.

Our Impact

I am writing to let you know that my daughter thoroughly enjoyed her camp experience last week! Jane is a “slow-to-warm-up” kind of child, so it was especially wonderful to see her positively beaming at the end of each day and telling us all about her camp experiences, singing songs, and showing us her projects each evening. My husband and I are thankful to her counselors and to all of the staff for making it such a great week for her!

— Parent of camper, Boston Nature Center Summer Day Camp

Random Quote

The Summer Fund’s program broke financial barriers to enable 816 new individuals to visit the Museum exhibit halls. Through the cultural program, we have the opportunity to enhance existing relationships and begin new ones with community-based organizations and with colleagues from other cultural organizations.

— Museum of Science