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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston Churchill


The collective effort of all Hestians is creating an impact in shaping the lives of marginalized youth through after school programs in the Boston area.
- Hestia Member

Read more personal statements from Hestia Members.

Poetically Speaking is an event held by Teen Voices. This city-wide, spoken-word event for girls is part of the Boston Girls Writing Community, a public forum for teen writers/activists.

The Hestia Fund is a women's grant-making organization operating in the greater Boston area. Our mission is to support programs that create opportunities for children from underserved families to thrive in school and realize lasting change in their lives. Since its inception in 2000, Hestia has distributed over $5 million dollars to a wide range of programs serving children and youth in Massachusetts.


In January 2000, Susan Priem launched a giving circle with the goals of increasing women's participation in philanthropy and distributing $100,000 in grants. As part of developing the initial concept, she established the following tenets for the fund:

  • Equal vesting of all members
  • Multi-year commitment to the circle
  • Consensus decision-making process
  • No additional fundraising within the membership

Within the first year of operation, Susan and the founding members defined the parameters of the giving circle. The group as a whole developed a broad mission and identified a specific grant making focus. The financial contribution was established at $5,000 per year for the women's three-year commitment and a bank's charitable gift fund was selected to serve as the non-profit umbrella for these contributions. Finally, the early group chose the name Hestia Fund, after the Greek goddess of the hearth.

Making Grants

Hestia members developed a unique, high engagement philanthropic model that involves:

  • Site visits by Hestia members prior to developing proposals
  • Active partnering with grant candidates throughout the proposal development process
  • An empowered grants committee, consisting of eight Hestia members, that represents the interests of the larger group


Growing and Sustaining a Functioning Circle

Hestia grew and operated in an organic fashion, forming working committees as necessary. Since its inception, the Hestia Fund has grown to more than 50 women with a grant-making budget of over $300,000. The three key operating committees are Grants, Membership and Steering. Additional committees have been formed to address opportunities for leveraging, annual meeting planning, and philanthropic education for the members. During the second year, the members also established an administrative operating budget. The budget funds a part-time program administrator, office space, and supplies. The operating budget is funded through dues paid by each member ($650 per year).

The critical factors in making Hestia successful as a giving circle are: mutual respect, trust within the circle and with grant partners, transparency, open dialogue, and opportunities for varying levels of participation.