Boston Foundation and United Way of Massachusetts Bay create Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund

BY Brigid Boyd

Aug 8 2023

Funds will supplement and support ongoing efforts to house and support migrants seeking safe haven in Mass.

Boston – The Boston Foundation and United Way of Massachusetts Bay today announced the formation of The Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund, a fund created in partnership to address the acute humanitarian crisis faced by migrants seeking asylum in Massachusetts, and to support the local, trusted community-based organizations directly serving new arrivals in our region.

“State employees and our partners have been miracle workers throughout this crisis – going above and beyond to support families and using every tool at their disposal to expand shelter capacity by more than 75 percent in the last year. But in recent months, demand has increased to levels that our emergency shelter system cannot keep up with, especially as the number of families leaving shelter has dwindled due to a lack of affordable housing options and barriers to securing work,” said Governor Maura Healey. “We need all hands on deck to support newly arriving migrant families and address this crisis - and I'm deeply grateful to The Boston Foundation and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay for meeting this moment by establishing the Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund.” 

“We welcome these families to Massachusetts, but we also recognize that this influx is not something that the Commonwealth’s ‘right to shelter’ system was designed to handle,” said M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “The launch of this fund is designed to unlock resources in support of ongoing efforts by cities and towns and community-led organizations alike to provide safe, secure housing and needed services to individual and families who undoubtedly deserve them.”

“Everyone deserves to have their essential needs met, and this crisis is no different,” said Bob Giannino, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay. “The Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund will rapidly deploy emergency financial assistance as we all work to address this humanitarian and public health crisis and ensure children and families have access to essential needs. By joining together, we can respond with urgency and compassion while fostering community solidarity and support.”

The Fund, hosted at, is now accepting donations from the public that will be used to meet a number of emerging needs, such as:

  • Providing general operating funds to local community-based organizations providing direct services on already-stretched budgets and staff resources.
    • Making emergency financial assistance available through a trusted network of human services and shelter organizations in the Commonwealth to ensure individuals, children, and families have access to essential needs, such as temporary accommodations, food, clothing, diapers, hygiene items, and transportation.
      • Supporting livelihood opportunities and assistance such as health screenings, translation services, legal assistance, work authorizations, ESOL classes, and other socio-economic and cultural integration supports.

        Early gifts to the Fund include a $100,000 donation from the Eastern Bank Foundation, and a $50,000 donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

        United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Boston Foundation both have extensive experience managing emergency relief efforts, including the distribution of tens of millions of dollars collectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that crisis, United Way partnered with more than a dozen cities and towns including Chelsea, Haverhill and Lynn to provide local response efforts, as well as with the Department of Early Education and Care to distribute more than $20 million for school-community Summer Step Up programming, while the Boston Foundation distributed more than $18 million through its COVID-19 Response Fund. The Boston Foundation has also managed emergency funds in response to the Haiti earthquake in 2011, and after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, as well as a fund providing targeted support for the city of Chelsea, Mass., during and after COVID.


        The Boston Foundation is one of the nation’s first and most impactful community foundations. Partnering with community members, donors, the public sector, businesses and nonprofits, we exist to close the gaps caused by our city’s greatest disparities, to advance economic justice, and to help build a better Boston. We collect data, commission research, share knowledge, develop dynamic programs, fuel new ideas, and fund change. Our work informs public policy, catalyzes conversations, and advocates not only for change but also for repairing the historical harms of inequity. Ultimately, we aim to support, contribute to and create well-being and opportunity within our communities. TBF is also one of New England’s largest grantmakers, supporting nonprofits in Greater Boston through our endowment and working closely with our donors to support nonprofits locally, nationally and internationally.

        United Way of Massachusetts Bay exists to build more equitable communities, together. With over 85 years of local impact in eastern Massachusetts, we work with and for our communities to build economic prosperity and enable everyone–across races and ethnicities–to share in the knowledge, wealth and resources available. We believe that the key to unlocking opportunity is uniting people, and we bring together individuals, community leaders, corporate partners, legislators and organizations to build a powerful engine of change.