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Boston-area nonprofits receive $2.25 million in MacArthur grants

Two Boston-area nonprofits have received a combined $2.25 million in grants from a prominent foundation to support their work in affordable housing and public policy research.

In a statement, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation said Wednesday that it was awarding $1.5 million to the Boston-based Housing Partnership Network and $750,000 to the Tobin Project in Cambridge.

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The organizations are among 13 advocacy, research, and media groups in the United States, Ecuador, Mexico, Kenya, and India that received grants of up to $1.5 million.

“We’re very pleased, very excited,” said Tom Bledsoe, president and chief executive of the Housing Partnership Network, a business collaborative of nonprofits that builds and finances affordable housing around the country.

Bledsoe said the grant will fund research and development of new funding models for housing.

“We need to change the business models to make them less reliant on public subsidies and be able to leverage private capital,” Bledsoe said.

According to the network’s website, its 99 members operate a range of programs, including the development of multi- and single-family homes, home ownership counseling, and financial institutions that fund schools, day-care and community centers, and small businesses.

‘We still have a growing housing shortage in the country, and the fund is designed to help us build those models.’

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David Moss, founder and president of the Tobin Project ­— a research center focusing on economic policy, governance, and national security — said Wednesday that the grant would greatly help his organization.

“We’re extremely surprised and gratified by this award,” Moss said.

He said his organization will place part of the grant in a reserve fund to strengthen its financial stability, and put the rest in an “experimentation fund” to advance the work of the group’s network of scholars.

Moss, a professor at Harvard Business School, founded the project in 2005. It is named for the late James Tobin, a Nobel laureate in economics whom Moss studied under at Yale.

Moss said Tobin inspired him to create a research center that tackles pressing global challenges, and the project has helped shape policy in Washington, according to its website.

Other grant winners include Sin Fronteras, a human rights group based in Mexico City, the Stimson Center, a policy research group in Washington, D.C., and the Socio Legal Information Center in New Delhi, a legal aid organization.

Grant recipients are not nominated, the MacArthur Foundation said. Rather, their selection is based on several factors, including a track record of effectiveness, stable financial management, and previous support from the foundation.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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