Northeast Funders Network

Our Purpose

The Northeast Funders Network (NEFN) promotes an interdisciplinary approach to building sustainable, vibrant and just small town and rural communities in the Northeast, with attention to the connections between rural and urban environments. Our geographic scope includes the northeastern states of  Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

About Us

The Northeast Funders Network (NEFN) is a developing network of funders who are based in the Northeast States. It aspires to create and grow a community of funders who share and learn together – to be better informed collectively about new models and practices relevant to their work and better positioned to think strategically about its integrated and interconnected nature. NEFN provides opportunities to meet with colleagues in person to learn and think about broad regional connections and regional data and trends, to think collectively about leadership development and building community/civic capacity, and to share practices, lessons, and new ideas. Through our annual meetings, learning calls and webinars, we offer access to rich and provocative content of mutual interest: on economics and demographics in the Northeast; stories about the challenges to rural communities; trends in rural poverty with particular focus on the Northeast; opportunities for change in small-town and rural northeast communities; and reflections on how the changing climate and natural environment impacts the economy and social equity in these communities.

Our strategies are:

1. Linking funders to enable them to exchange information and learn together with an overall focus on the connections and interdependence between rural and smaller communities and our cities and metropolitan regions.

2. Identifying priority issues and strategies for ongoing deep-dives and possible strategies for aligned funding activities. To date, two areas have come to the fore: Identifying opportunities for public-private partnerships, and engagement across funder sectors, including corporate funders, government funders and national and regional funders.

3. Supporting interested funders to develop strategies for aligned funding or collaborations, undertake special initiatives and commission relevant research.

Participation in NEFN is open to public and private foundations and corporate grantmakers. Government funders that demonstrate a deep commitment to the work of NEFN also may participate. Funders are encourage to support NEFN by being a member of TFN and with program-specific contributions and grants that directly support development of NEFN.


Following a scoping effort supported by the Orton Family Foundation, NEFN was launched in early 2014. Specific issue areas of interest have included the status of immigrants and refugees; community economic development challenges and opportunities; the emerging climate economy including clean energy opportunities; change and opportunity in low and moderate income communities in smaller, post-industrial cities; transitions in the forest economy; nature’s services to both urban and rural areas; and cultivating the next generation of leadership. Hooper Brooks coordinates NEFN in consultation with Ann Fowler Wallace, TFN’s program director. Hooper was the environment program director at the Surdna Foundation from 1991–2007, where he was instrumental in the creation of the Funders’ Network.

Steering Committee

Jay Espy, Executive Director,  Elmina B. Sewall Foundation

Jon Jensen, Executive Director, Park Foundation

Elizabeth Lynn, Executive Director, van Beuren Charitable Foundation

Gabrielle Smith, Senior Associate for Strategic Partnerships, Orton Family Foundation

Kirsten Scobie, Director of Tillotson Funds, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

Gaye Symington, President, High Meadows Fund

Peter Taylor, President, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation


Contact Hooper Brooks
(305) 667-6350 ext 201