The Burgess Urban Fund (BUF), a grants program of the Episcopal City Mission, supports grassroots community organizing in response to social injustice in Massachusetts. For over 30 years BUF has supported the work to improve the lives of those in need.

BUF understands community organizing as a process that develops the power and capacity within a community to improve members’ lives. Strong organizing work includes:

  • Engaging members of the community in identifying shared concerns and setting goals for social change
  • Developing new leaders, especially among those affected by social inequality, and including them in the leadership of a movement
  • Undertaking projects that are likely to result in concrete results for the core constituency.
  • Articulating both the immediate and root causes of the problem. Working to change the unequal relationships and social patterns that underlie the issue.
  • Collaborating with other organizations, regional or statewide organizations/initiatives

BUF focuses funding to organizations working to address social injustice and poverty related issues. We are a Boston-based organization but support organizations working on statewide issues. Historically we have focused funding in the following areas: Affordable Housing, Workers’ Rights, Immigration, and Access to Employment. BUF also accepts applications from groups organizing around other poverty and social justice related issues

BUF focuses its funding to support small grassroots organizations and movements. BUF will accept applications from organizations with a budget over $500,000 only if the applicant can illustrate a clear need for funds to sustain or grow their organizing work. Grants are awarded up to $20,000 per year for a five-year cycle, with re-application each year.

The Burgess Urban Fund is a program of Episcopal City Mission (ECM). Episcopal City Mission works for social and economic justice in Massachusetts, with particular emphasis on the urban poor. ECM seeks to mobilize Episcopal parishes, individuals and resources in partnership with other community organizations for social structural change. We seek to do this through support for community organizing, mission-related investments in affordable housing, community economic development, and public policy advocacy.

How to Apply for a BUF Grant

Grant-seekers may send a Letter of Intent to Episcopal City Mission for consideration. Please use the following Guidelines for this letter:

Applicants must be non-profit 501(c)3 organizations or have a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor. The letter should not be more than two pages in length, with no less than 11 font size and 1.5 spaced lines. Include a Contact Name, Address, Email and Phone Number Describe the organizing initiative for which funding is sought and how the project relates to the BUF guidelines for community organizing and the priority areas. Submit via email to Katie Campbell Simons at BUF will review letters of intent and request full proposals from a small number of prospective grantees. Final funding decisions for grants are made by the Executive Committee of the Episcopal City Mission.

2017 Dates:

Letters of Intent due by 5:00pm, Friday, May 25, 2017 – Please submit via email to

Applicants will receive an invitation to submit a full proposal by Friday, June 30, 2017


Full Grant Proposals due by 5:00pm, Thursday, October 12, 2017. Grant recipients will be notified by Friday, December 1, 2017.

For more information, please contact: Katie Campbell Simons Episcopal City Mission 617.482.4826 ext. 224

Current BUF Grantees

BUF “Out of Cycle” Grants – By Invitation Only

ECM is always looking for new ways to partner with the community and to expand and deepen our impact in the field of community organizing. In the last two years ECM has begun awarding some small out of cycle grants to initiatives, events, etc… that do not fall under our annual grant cycle but are exciting and impactful events that ECM wants to support.

Past Out-of-Cycle Grantees:

The Massachusetts Census Equity Fund

With a special grant from the Burgess Urban Fund, Episcopal City Mission joined with several local and national funders to award $500,000 in grants and resources to nonprofits to promote census participation. These grants provided funding and educational resources to organizations throughout Massachusetts to more accurately count underserved communities in the 2010 Census, and to ensure a transparent, fair and non-discriminatory state redistricting process.

The Drawing Democracy Project (DDP)

ECM joined a collaboration of funders to support DDP, an initiative working to promote a transparent and accountable redistricting process and to empower communities to create fair voting districts. The impact of these new districts will shape critical policy and neighborhood decisions for the next 10 years. DDP has awarded a total of $195,000 in grants to provide financial and technical support to 13 community-based organizations in Massachusetts. These organizations represent people who have historically been underrepresented in the redistricting process, such as low-income individuals, people of color, immigrants, and former prisoners in numerically significant regions of Massachusetts.National Immigration Integration Conference

ECM donated funds to support this national conference, held in Boston in the fall of 2010. The conference was a strategic effort to assemble concerned policy makers, providers and concerned allies to help forge an agenda for the welcome, naturalization and economic advancement of immigrant America.

Freedom Rides

During the summer of 2010 ECM helped to send 20 delegates from Massachusetts organizations to The United State Social Forum, held in Detroit, MI. The US Social Forum is a movement building process, a gathering of community organizers from across the country. It is a key step in the struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement to transform this country and change history.

Additional Resources