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Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund

The fund supports public art, landscape improvements, and beautification projects throughout Boston.

Update: The Browne Fund deadline is usually March 15. In 2020, March 15 is a Sunday, so the Browne Fund will accept applications through Monday, March 16, 2020

The Browne Fund was created under a will from attorney Edward Ingersoll Browne in 1892. Mr. Browne directed that a third of his estate would be invested and the income used for the:

“adornment and benefit of (Boston) by the erection of statues, monuments, fountains for men and beasts and for the ornament of its streets, ways, squares and parks in such manner as will promote the pleasure, comfort, education, patriotism and good taste of its citizens.”

A City Ordinance established the process through which the Browne Fund distributes its income. A committee reviews proposals, and a commission has final funding authority. The Browne Fund Commission is made up of the Mayor, the City treasurer, and the senior member of the City Council.

Have questions? Contact:

Treasury
Can't apply online?

Print out and complete our application and mail it to:

City of Boston Treasury Department
Attention: Browne Fund
City Hall, Room M-5, Boston, MA 02201

You can also call us at 617-635-3699 and we will send you an application through the mail.

Applying for a grant

Eligible projects

Browne Fund grants are awarded for outdoor projects in Boston. Buildings, programs, and activities are not eligible for grants. The Browne Fund does not give grants to individual people. 

Many Browne Fund projects are in public squares, parks, and plazas. Other projects ornament the City’s streets and sidewalks. 
In some situations, we can fund projects on private property. These projects should mostly benefit the public, not the property owner. Examples might include:

  • developing a community garden owned by a nonprofit, or
  • Adding lighting to a significant community landmark. 

Any private benefit should be incidental to the prime purpose of a Browne Fund project. The project must be open to the public to promote – in Mr. Browne’s words – “the pleasure, comfort, education, patriotism, and good taste of the citizens of Boston.”  

Are you an applicant but not the property owner? A memorandum of understanding or similar legal agreement must be in place that states you have the authority to work on the property.

Types of grants

The Browne Fund can support two types of work: 

  • design, and 
  • construction.

A design grant develops a conceptual design preliminary cost estimate, and begins construction plans. Design grants are typically less than $60,000. 

A construction grant funds the construction work on the project. A design grant from the Browne Fund does not guarantee Browne’s funding of the construction of the proposed work. Construction grants are typically less than $160,000.


Applying online

Before applying, we recommend you review our applicant information section at the bottom of this page to get a better understanding of what's expected in your application.

If you would like to apply for funds, please also review the Edward Ingersoll Browne Application Worksheet. This worksheet will help you draft responses to the questions in our application form before starting the online submission process.

Note: Once you start the process online, you must finish it in one sitting. The online system does not allow you to save your information and return to it later. If you leave the page, your information will be lost. Use the worksheet to craft your answers and complete your internal review process before you begin the online process.

Apply for a grant online

After you get a grant

After the Browne Fund Commission makes its decision, the City Council has to vote for the appropriation. We notify applicants in writing about the award after this process.

Notifications

At the time a grantee is notified, they will receive the following:

  • Grant agreement
  • Payment information
  • Reporting requirements
  • Project timeline information

For more details about each of these, please check the grant recipient section at the bottom of this page.

Review process

Browne Fund Committee

The Browne Fund Committee is made up of:

  • a representative from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects
  • a representative from the Boston Art Commission, and 
  • the Commissioners of Public Works and Parks and Recreation, or their designees.

The Committee serves as an advisory body. It recommends to the Browne Fund Commission proposals that it believes meet the criteria stated in Mr. Browne’s will.

Guidelines

Projects that receive funds generally meet these goals:

  1. Transform the space
  2. Affect a maximum number of people in the area.
  3. Encourage or complement development of additional amenities in the area
  4. Improve existing facilities
  5. Be in an area of high visibility, where the surroundings lack similar amenities
  6. Include a maintenance agreement with abutters or local organizations, or both
Review presentations

We invite applicants to make a presentation to the Committee as part of the review process. These presentations happen in the evening to accommodate volunteers who are working on the projects. The meetings generally occur within 8-10 weeks of the application deadline.

The Browne Fund Commission has sole responsibility for funding decisions. After approval by the Commission, an order requesting appropriation of funds is sent to the City Council for its review and approval.

Information for Applicants

Information for Applicants

Construction grants support creation and installation of improvements. Construction grants are typically less than $160,000.

The Browne Fund rarely covers the full cost of construction projects ⁠— more funding is usually required. Applicants must submit a detailed and realistic plan for securing the balance of funds needed to complete the proposed project. A project is generally ready to apply for a construction grant once at least half the money required to build the project has been secured.

Sources may include:
  • private funders
  • public grants like the Community Preservation Act, or
  • City capital budget as appropriate.

Browne Fund monies will be released when the applicant has secured the total cost of project construction.

Construction grants can fund:
  • professional fees for artists, landscape architects, engineers and related services
  • payments to contractors and fabricators, and
  • project management.
Project management tasks for construction include:
  • coordinating work with designers, contractors and project partners
  • managing the project schedule
  • keeping project records, and
  • similar work.

Grant funds may not be used for general operating expenses or fundraising. Project management services paid by Browne should not exceed 10 percent of the grant amount. If the applicant is proposing a work of public art, they must work closely with the staff of the Boston Art Commission in:

  • submitting the application
  • developing a competitive artist selection process, and
  • design development.

Visit the Boston Art Commission site to learn more about public art approvals in Boston.

The application will ask about:

  1. your organization
  2. project description
  3. budget and fundraising activities
  4. project location and owner of the project site
  5. if the project includes public art, describe coordination with the Art Commission
  6. a commitment to meet all relevant laws, codes and regulations, and
  7. on-going maintenance.

Grant application

Design grants fund schematic design and a preliminary, professional assessment of the cost to put in place the proposed design. Design grants are typically less than $60,000.

Design grants can fund:
  • professional fees for landscape architects, engineers and related services
  • artist selection stipends and artist’s design fees
  • development of construction plans and specifications to 50 percent
  • preliminary permitting, and
  • development of cost estimates.

The Browne Fund can support project management services during design. Project management tasks for design include:

  • organizing public meetings and similar outreach activities
  • coordinating work with designers, artists and project partners
  • coordinating reviews and approvals
  • managing the project schedule
  • keeping project records, and
  • similar work.

Grant funds may not be used for general operating expenses or fundraising. Project management services paid by Browne should not exceed 10 percent of the grant amount. The design must result in a project that can be built. The design must conform with relevant codes. It must meet all regulations set forth by agencies that have a direct interest in, or relation to, the project site. Depending on the location, these may include, but are not limited to:

  • the Parks and Recreation Department
  • Public Facilities Department
  • Public Works Department
  • Boston Art Commission
  • Boston Landmarks Commission, and
  • historic district commissions.
Public art

If the applicant is proposing a work of public art, they must work closely with the staff of the Boston Art Commission in:

  • submitting the application
  • developing a competitive artist selection process, and
  • the design development.

Visit the Boston Art Commission site to learn more about public art approvals in Boston.

The design development process should be open and inclusive. The resulting design should have the support of abutters and appropriate groups in the neighborhood. The applicant should work closely with all such groups and relevant City agencies during the design phase.

The products of the design development process will be submitted to the Browne Fund with the final request for payment. These include plans, renderings, and cost estimates. The budget for execution of the design should be based on a priority listing, and presented incrementally.

The application will ask about:

  1. your organization
  2. project description
  3. budget and fundraising activities
  4. project location and owner of the project site
  5. if the project includes public art describe coordination with the Art Commission
  6. a commitment to meet all relevant laws, codes and regulations, and
  7. on-going maintenance.

Grant application

Before applying to the Browne Fund, applicants must obtain written permission from the property’s owner.

If the work is proposed for City property, this will be the director or commissioner of the authorizing agency or department. For example:

  • Public Facilities Commission has jurisdiction over City-owned buildings and plazas
  • Public Works over City-owned roadways, sidewalks, and median strips, and
  • Parks and Recreation over City-owned parks, squares and playgrounds.

If the application is for work on private property, the permission will need to be granted by the person who has the authority to sign a contract for the owner. This could be an executive director, board chair, or owner of record.

If an applicant is proposing a work of public art, they must work closely with the staff of the Boston Art Commission in:

  • submitting the application
  • developing a competitive artist selection process, and
  • the design development.

Visit the Boston Art Commission site to learn more about public art approvals in Boston.

The project must conform to relevant codes and meet all regulations set forth by agencies that have a direct interest in, or relation to, the project site. Depending on the location, these may include but are not limited to:

  • the Parks and Recreation Department
  • Public Facilities Department
  • Public Works Department
  • Art Commission
  • Boston Landmarks Commission, and
  • historic district commissions.

We encourage applicants to consider the time and effort that will go into securing approvals as they develop their budget.

The Browne Fund rarely covers the full cost of projects ⁠— more funding is usually required.

Applicants must have a detailed and realistic plan for securing the balance of funds needed to complete the proposed project. A project is generally ready to apply for a construction grant once at least half the money needed to build the project has been secured.

Sources may include:
  • private funders
  • public grants like the Community Preservation Act, or
  • City capital budget, as appropriate.

Browne Fund monies will be released for expenditure when the applicant has secured the total cost of the project. Please note, Browne Fund grants cannot be spent on fundraising activities.

Grantees will receive a grant agreement that explains:

  1. their responsibilities, and
  2. the responsibilities of the Browne Fund.

This must be signed before work can begin.

Each Browne Fund construction grant has a maintenance requirement. In most cases this is met through a maintenance agreement between:

  • the grantee
  • owner (if different from the grantee), and
  • the Browne Fund.

In some cases where the proposed work will require extraordinary maintenance, an endowment or other dedicated funding source should be identified.

The Browne Fund conducts annual inspections of the funded projects. If the terms of the maintenance agreement are not being met, the Browne Fund may, at its sole discretion, withdraw from any future support for the site.

All Browne Fund projects must be completed within 18 months after the written notification of the award.

All projects will be reviewed after six months. We want to see that substantial progress has been made towards completion of the project.

All requests for extensions of deadline:

  • must be in written form to the Treasury Department’s Trust Program, and
  • must meet with the written approval of the Commissioners.

Extensions may be granted. But, any project that has not been started or shown substantial progress within three years will be withdrawn from active status. The funds will revert back to the Browne Fund. The applicant would need to complete a new application to the Browne Fund Committee for the project to be reinstated.

Information for Grant Recipients

Information for Grant Recipients

Grantees will receive a grant agreement that explains:

  1. their responsibilities, and
  2. the responsibilities of the Browne Fund.

This must be signed before work can begin.

All Browne Fund projects must be completed within 18 months after the written notification of the award.

All projects will be reviewed after six months. We want to see that substantial progress has been made towards completion of the project.

All requests for extensions of deadline:

  • must be in written form to the Treasury Department’s Trust Program, and
  • must meet with the written approval of the Commissioners.

Extensions may be granted. But, any project that has not been started or shown substantial progress within three years will be withdrawn from active status. The funds will revert back to the Browne Fund. The applicant would need to complete a new application to the Browne Fund Committee for the project to be reinstated.

The Browne Fund pays for work as it is completed. The fund cannot advance money to organizations, consultants, or contractors.

Often, the Browne Fund’s grant will only cover part of the project’s budget. The applicant must have secured all the money needed to complete the scope of work supported by the grant before the Fund can make payments. Please provide supporting documents of other financial commitments to the Browne Fund as they become available.

In some cases, the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund will be the only funder for a project. In those cases, work may begin immediately upon receipt of the Fund Award or execution of the grant agreement.

The Fund may make payments in one of two ways: 

  1. Reimbursement: Pay vendors directly and apply for a subsequent reimbursement.  Once the Trust Office receives supporting documents and the Request for Trust Fund Payment form, we will make payment directly to the grant recipient.
  2. Vendor Direct: Provide vendor invoices directly to the Fund with the Request for Trust Fund Payment form. Once the form and payment details are determined to be in good order, we will make payment directly to the vendor.

In either case, the grant recipient signs the Request for Trust Fund Payment form. This ensures that you are satisfied that the work is complete and ready for payment. Supporting documentation may include, but shall not be limited to:

  • signed contracts
  • billing statements from vendors, and
  • paid receipts and cancelled checks.

The Browne Fund requires original documents.

FINAL DISBURSEMENT

The final disbursement of funds comes only after:

  1. the filing of all required reports
  2. on-site inspection by representatives of the Browne Fund Commission
  3. submission of all relevant documents, and
  4. a signed statement releasing the City of Boston, the Browne Fund, and the Commissioners of the Browne Fund from any and all further expenses and liability.

All funds within the original appropriation not spent by the grantees will revert back to the Browne Fund.

All grantees are responsible for funds encumbered or expended over and above the amount provided in the original appropriation. All grantees are responsible for any further expenses incurred after the Commissioners have voted to remove designated authority and funding. Such vote by the Commissioners will be deemed to be occurring as a result of default on the part of the designated authority.

For a period of 18 months after the project is completed, grantees must maintain and be able to readily produce project documents, including:

  • any and all documents
  • bills and invoices, and
  • cancelled checks.

Progress reports are due every six months between grant award and project completion.  A final report is submitted at completion. The report includes both a narrative and a financial update.

The Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund Progress Report form has two pages. The report includes both a narrative and a financial update. Please feel free to keep your reports brief. We have a sample report for a mock project for your review.

These forms must be filled out and returned to the Treasury Department’s Trust Program. Failure to provide these reports in a timely manner will prevent any and all disbursements of funds for work done to date. Failure to provide these forms will also bring subsequent review from the Treasury Department’s Trust Program, and a possible recommendation for removal of designated authority and funding.

Final reports

A Final Report is required of all Browne Fund grantees after project completion.

For a design grant, the Final Report is made up of the Browne Fund Progress Report form with the following products of the design development process:

  1. conceptual plans
  2. renderings
  3. any construction plans and specifications
  4. cost estimates, and
  5. plan for implementation.

For a construction grant, the Final Report is made up of the Browne Fund Progress Report form and includes:

  • projected maintenance cost of project
  • executed a maintenance agreement for project area
  • photo of installed Browne Fund plaque, and
  • photos of completed project.

These are submitted to the Browne Fund with the final request for payment.

Each Browne Fund construction grant has a maintenance requirement. In most cases this is met through a maintenance agreement between:

  • the grantee
  • owner (if different from the grantee), and
  • the Browne Fund.

In some cases where the proposed work will require extraordinary maintenance, an endowment or other dedicated funding source should be identified.

The Browne Fund conducts annual inspections of the funded projects. If the terms of the maintenance agreement are not being met, the Browne Fund may, at its sole discretion, withdraw from any future support for the site.