Funder’s Corner: The Clowes Fund

A decade with SkillWorks



“The Clowes Fund, a family foundation, seeks to enhance the common good by encouraging organizations and projects that help to build a just and equitable society, create opportunities for initiative, foster creativity and the growth of knowledge, and promote appreciation of the natural environment.” This mission has guided The Clowes Fund for nearly two decades. Ten years ago, The Clowes Fund articulated its specific interest in assuring that all individuals have available the support and services necessary to enable them to participate fully in the economic life of their communities. SkillWorks has been part of our strategy since then.

Our relationship with SkillWorks has proven an effective and efficient way to stretch Fund resources — staff time and foundation dollars — by leaning on the expertise of SkillWorks’ executive director and Funders Group colleagues to support workforce development programs that engage employers, demonstrate results through data and have the potential to grow.

In 2017, the Fund made a four-year grant for SkillWorks’ next phase of work, an investment that is aligned with the initiative’s strategic plan and offers predictable funding for long-term planning. In light of the Fund’s interest in supporting immigrants, we are particularly pleased by SkillWorks’ desire to better serve immigrant and refugee workers. Stable employment with opportunities for advancement is an important part of immigrant integration, and data by the MIT Sloan School of Management suggests that realistically, the local economy would stagnate if not for the talents of the immigrant labor force.

Coincidentally, early in my career I worked at the Boston Foundation during SkillWorks’ infancy (when it was known by the far-less eloquent name “The Boston Workforce Development Funders Group”), and it is wonderful to see the realization of the founders’ vision of a new way of organizing private and public funds that has helped nearly 6,000 people enter and grow in well-paying jobs, and to know that the SkillWorks model inspired dozens of other communities to create similar partnerships.  The Clowes Fund is pleased to be part of this work!


This post was written by Megan Briggs Reilly, New England Program Officer, The Clowes Fund, and representative on the SkillWorks Funder’s Group for over two years.

Learn more about the Clowes Fund on their website:

Author: SkillWorks

SkillWorks is a nationally recognized workforce funder collaborative, launched by the Boston Foundation in 2003 to improve workforce development in Boston and across Massachusetts. SkillWorks brings together philanthropy, government, community organizations and employers to address the twin goals of: 1) Helping low-skill, low-income individuals attain family-supporting jobs; and 2) Helping employers find and retain skilled employees.

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