Closing with a Narrow Focus
In 2008, the family grants committee turned to plan for the closing of the Cox Trust, then nearly a decade away. Mindful of the Trust’s legacy and of the diminishing spending power of its annual payout due to inflation, they began to narrow their focus within the fields of health, education, and the environment and closed with investments in three nascent movements – universal PreK, Regional Conservation Partnerships, and innovations in community health centers.
Grant Strategy From Broad to Deep
The Trust’s strategic shift from a ‘broad to deep’ focus was made in consultation with leading academics and nonprofit practitioners and was informed also by learning visits in the field. From this process, the committee doubled down on early childhood education and out-of-school time in their education grants, on protecting functioning ecosystems – including core habitats and wildlife corridors – in their environmental efforts, and on access in the field of health. Trust grants for early education exceeded $1.3 million from 2010 through 2015, balanced by similar investments in health access and conservation.
By 2011, focus in these fields had narrowed further, with the articulation of three closing initiatives: targeting large-scale movements for universal PreK in Boston and Vermont, large-scale habitat conservation undertaken by Regional Conservation Partnerships throughout New England, and innovation in access to health care led by community health centers. The large grants made in the period leading up to the 2017 close are significant measures of the Trust’s faith in its grantee organizations. As we write this report, the grants committee is continuing to meet with influencers in these three fields and to consider the best use of the Trust’s remaining funds.
The Trust concludes on a note of optimism and with the reasonable expectation that our partners in government, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector will further the momentum— as they have done for the past 35 years—improving New England for generations to come.
Read more about closing foundations:
- Time Limited Foundations, list from the Duke Sanford Center for Strategic Philanthropy
- When it Comes to Perpetuity, Find Your Own Path, the National Center for Family Philanthropy
- Why We’re Closing, the John Merck Fund