Learn what’s happening at the Foundation and in the communities where we work. Hear from staff and partners about their accomplishments and lessons learned along the way.

How well do parents of children with intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities think their communities support them?


Author: Don Matteson

Back in 2012 the Foundation’s Trustees and staff adopted a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) approach to understanding our grant making impact on the fields and communities we serve. As part of adopting RBA, we identified a total of 19 community-wide goals across the issue areas we support (if you’re curious, you can find them on page … Continued

Assessing Program Grants [Part 2]: Are They Making an Impact? Year-End 2019.


Author: Nicholas Randell

Part 2 [This second (and final) installment takes a look at recent Tower grants and their impact on the target population, grantee organization, and the field at large. This analysis represents 44 grants that were closed between June 2018 and December 2019.] Once again, we wanted to take a look at the somewhat broader impact … Continued

Are We Making Effective Grants? [Part 1] Year-End 2019.


Author: Nick Randell, Program Officer

Part 1 [This installment of a two-part series looks at the performance of Tower grants when measured against specific project goals; Part 2 will look at the broader impact of the same grants.] About every year and half or so, we take a look at the latest cluster of closed grants and assess their aggregate … Continued

Meet Our Fall 2019 Grant Partners


Author: Tower Staff

The Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation is pleased to announce its recent grant awards totaling more than $850,000 to eight organizations for projects benefitting Eastern Massachusetts and Western New York. According to Tracy Sawicki, the Foundation’s Executive Director, “These awards recognize and celebrate the creative energy and dedication of our grant partners. Our communities are … Continued

Bridges to Success: Empowering Young People


Author: Guest

Our guest blogger for this post is Coreen Brinckerhoff, CEO of CORD (Cape Organization for the Rights of the Disabled, Hyannis, Massachusetts). We are incredibly proud of our Bridges to Success program. Although built from the bones of a previous federally-funded vocational rehab (VR) program, we feel it is unique and special in so many … Continued

We get by with a little help from our friends: Tower Foundation Advisory Team


Author: Megan MacDavey and Nick Randell

Staff post guidelines. Organizations apply. Staff review requests. Staff ask clarifying questions. Staff invite full proposals from organizations. Board approves or declines proposals. Repeat. We are a well-oiled grantmaking machine. We’ve switched things up here and there over the years (e.g., reduced the number of questions we ask, added a clarification call, tightened the timeline), … Continued

Tweaks for Better Listening


Author: Don Matteson

Over the past year or so, we’ve been exploring Human-Centered Design (HCD). At a super-high level, HCD is a process of developing products or programs that places the end-user at the center of the process. It involves a deliberate set of stages and activities that helps designers get closer to end-users to get a better … Continued

Playing with (Catcha)fire


Author: Megan MacDavey

I am reminded daily by the amazing grant partners I get to work with that there is huge demand by nonprofits to build their capacity to be stronger, more sustainable organizations, but that there are not enough resources to do so.  Ninety-five percent of the organizations that responded to a Tower Foundation survey in 2016 … Continued

Making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline easier to use


Author: Don Matteson

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission recommended shortening the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1–800–273–8255) to three digits. This would effectively make it a “911” for suicide prevention. This is an excellent suggestion, and it echoes what Michael Hogan, Ph.D. recommends in the first installment of the 2019 Think … Continued