The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University

Let no one be confused: while the Foundation’s financial contribution is enormously generous, it’s far less important than its vision and leadership. If this Institute is to make a difference for Harvard and Boston, this will be a result of the time, of the energy, and of the ideas that the Foundation’s leaders have brought to the task.

Edward Glaeser

former Director, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Greater Boston deserves to have the best leadership possible in all aspects of government and public policy. The Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation and Harvard University’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston are devoted to developing effective leaders who will improve the quality of life in greater Boston.

Through the vision and generosity of Jerome Lyle Rappaport, leaders from all levels of government have been able to benefit from the Rappaport Urban Fellowships to the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and from the critical resources that Harvard University’s Rappaport Institute provides including: people, research, forums, information and training.

Rewarding the Vision, Commitment and Success of the Rappaport Institute

Jerry Rappaport addresses the press at the Rappaport Institute's endowment announcement as Mayor Menino, former Harvard University President Larry Summers and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School's Dean Davis Ellwood look on.

Jerry Rappaport addresses the press at the Rappaport Institute’s endowment announcement as Mayor Menino, former Harvard University President Larry Summers and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School’s Dean Davis Ellwood look on.

On June 28, 2006, a shared vision and the resources needed to make the Rappaport Institute a permanent entity was announced by the University and the Foundation through the establishment of an endowment funded by a $12.4 million gift from the Rappaport Family and the Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation. In addition to the endowment grant, the Rappaport family and foundation have provided more than $2.75 million in grants to found and fund the Institute since it was created in 2000.

The income from the endowment will support the Institute’s core operations, which include public-sector fellowship programs for graduate students, research grants for scholars to study pressing local issues, scholarships and training programs for local officials, events and briefings that bring together scholars and practitioners to discuss key issues, and a variety of efforts to ensure that scholars and practitioners have access to each other’s insights and findings.  The Institute and the University also plan to use the funding from the endowment to leverage significant additional spending, particularly to develop and disseminate policy-relevant research about the region.

The gift continues a long history of involvement in both local government and Harvard by the Foundation’s namesake, Jerome Lyle Rappaport, who has worked to connect scholars, students, and city leaders since he was a student at Harvard Law School in the late 1940s.  Rappaport, who worked for Boston Mayor John Hynes, helped found the New Boston Committee in the early 1950s, and went on to a successful career in law and real estate, says: “For a long time there was a need for a stronger connection between Harvard’s wonderful resources and challenges faced by the people, the City of Boston, the region, and state government.  The Rappaport Institute has already proven to extend what for me has been a life-long interest in the interrelationship between the academic and political worlds, and I’m pleased to know this relationship will continue for generations to come.”

The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston strives to improve the governance of greater Boston by strengthening connections between the region’s faculty, students, and civic leaders.  The Institute does so by encouraging public service, producing new ideas, and stimulating informed discussions.

Meaningful Measurable Results

Since 2001, the Institute’s Summer Public Policy Fellows Programs has given more than 150 students from all of the region’s universities the opportunity to work with local and state officials on such issues as expanding access to health care, providing affordable housing, preventing homelessness, strengthening community policing programs, and implementing cutting-edge performance management systems. The Institute has helped leading scholars in the region carry out high-quality, policy-relevant research on such issues as housing, economic development, transportation, education, and local governance. The Institute also works with scholars to disseminate high-quality research in timely ways that are most accessible to and useful for policymakers and civic leaders. Since 1980, the Rappaport Urban Fellows program, which predates the Institute, has given more than 30 elected and appointed officials from greater Boston full scholarships to the Kennedy School of Government’s world-renowned Mid-Career Master in Public Administration Program. Several dozen local and state officials have also participated in Institute training seminars, where they have had the opportunity to learn from leading scholars, expert practitioners, and from each other as well.

More broadly, the Institute’s efforts have encouraged talented people to enter and remain in public service. About half the former summer fellows have taken public-sector jobs, many with entities where they first served as a fellow and most in policy areas where they first worked as a fellow as well.  Similarly, the vast majority of former Rappaport Urban Fellows are either still working for public entities or for non-profit and for-profit entities actively involved in public affairs and public policy.

Living by the Principle of Continuous Improvement

Working with the Rappaport Foundation, the Institute actively works to improve its programs and offerings.  Most notably, in 2004-2005, the Kennedy School, in partnership with the Foundation, carried out an extensive evaluation of the Institute.  The results of the evaluation offered the Institute and the Foundation valuable insights in how to better achieve the outcomes desired by both entities.  Specifically, the Institute modified its summer fellowship program, changed its training programs for local officials, and refocused its efforts toward generating high-quality, policy-relevant research.

Also, directly as a result of feedback from its advisory board, the Institute and the Foundation are developing new strategies for ensuring that key policymakers are better aware of — and make more use of — the Institute’s policy-related scholarship and activities.

About the Selection Process

The Rappaport Public Policy Summer Fellows Program: Graduate-level students who will continue with their studies at local universities, including Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, Suffolk University, Northeastern University, the University of Massachusetts – Boston, Brandeis University, and Tufts University, who are studying in programs with public-policy implications for the greater Boston metropolitan area or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can apply to the Rappaport Public Policy Summer Fellows program.

Students can come from a wide range of fields, including: architecture and design, business administration, economics, education, ethnic studies, divinity, engineering, environmental studies, geography, medicine, nursing, political science, public health, psychology, public policy, sociology, urban policy and planning, and women’s studies. Students from other disciplines are welcome to apply for internships as well, as long as their study somehow relates to public policy issues in Greater Boston. For more information on how to apply please go to

The Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation does not participate or in any way influence the selection process.