Tell us about the Sudbury Foundation?
A couple from Sudbury, Herbert & Esther Atkinson, started the Foundation in 1952 as a vehicle for their philanthropy. They were modest people who believed in private giving for the public good. Well-known around town (they lived in the house formerly owned by Babe Ruth), the couple operated the Sudbury Laboratory, a successful small business specializing in soil testing kits. As the Laboratory prospered, the Atkinsons shared their good fortune with others, both directly and through the Foundation. The couple had no children. When they died, they left their entire estate to the Foundation to carry on their charitable work. Today, the Foundation awards grants and scholarships in excess of $1.3 million annually. Our grant funding is designed to strengthen our nonprofit partners who are working to solve some of our most pressing social issues. Our college scholarship program encourages local teens to uncover their passion, both in and out of school, and to follow their dreams.
Why has the Sudbury Foundation partnered with the REC at this time?
We fund the REC through our Farm and Local Food Initiative, which started in 2016. Like many of our funding colleagues drawn to environmental causes, we recognized that we can’t protect our environment unless we consider how conservation measures affect people, their communities and their economic livelihood.
As we see it, farming and local food is one of the most comprehensive nexus issues of all, protecting the land and water, impacting health, reducing hunger and food insecurity, advancing social justice and creating jobs and economic opportunity. The REC is the perfect example of how an organization can straddle a number of important social issues and make an impact on all of them. One of the many things that impresses us about the REC is its commitment to educate and empower Worcester residents to improve their community through a food systems’ lens. They are successful because they listen to their constituents and develop programs that respond. The mobile markets are a great example of creative programming that fills a community need. REC’s community gardens, school gardens, and YouthGROW program strengthen the community by addressing all of the issues in a smart, thoughtful, caring manner. We have always been particularly impressed with the leadership at the REC and their passion for the work they do. We are pleased to count ourselves as one of their many partners.
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