The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University
The partnership between the Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation and Harvard University is driven by the belief that Greater Boston deserves to have the best leadership possible in all aspects of government and public policy. The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston is devoted to developing effective leaders who will improve the quality of life in Greater Boston. Through the vision and generosity of Jerome Lyle Rappaport and his wife Phyllis, leaders from across sectors and levels of government have benefitted from the critical resources that Harvard University’s Rappaport Institute provides, including: research, fellowships, and training.
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

About the Institute

Public Policy Summer Fellowship

The Rappaport Institute supports a cohort of up to 16 Graduate students who attend school in the Boston area to complete a 10-week summer internship in key state and local agencies in the Greater Boston area. Alumni are more likely than their peers to pursue careers in public service.

Rappaport Urban Scholarship

Since 1981, the Rappaport Urban Fellowship has provided full-tuition scholarships to more than 30 elected and appointed officials from greater Boston to pursue a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA) program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Experiential Learning

The Rappaport Public Finance Summer Fellowship supports Kennedy School students who undertake a project related to public finance. These projects have traditionally been a continuation of work conducted through Professor Linda Bilmes’ Greater Boston Applied Field Lab course, which the Foundation also supports.


The Rappaport Institute strives to identify, encourage, and in some cases support high-quality, policy-relevant research on key issues facing greater Boston. This work is disseminated through public events, briefings for key officials, publications, articles in the local media, and on the Institute’s website.
Meaningful, Measurable Results

Since 2001, the Institute’s Summer Public Policy Fellows Programs has given more than 200 students representing over a dozen local schools and 20 departments 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. A 2015 study of the impact of the fellowship revealed that over half of all Rappaport fellows go on to work in the public sector at some point after graduation, as compared to only 36 percent of runners-up.  Many summer fellows go on to work with the entities they first served as a fellow. This illustrates the significant role of the fellowship in encouraging promising graduates to work in the public sector.

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. 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.

The Institute has also 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. In addition, the Institute supports scholars’ efforts to disseminate high-quality research in timely ways using methods and tools to ensure information is most accessible to and useful for policymakers and civic leaders.

The Vision and Commitment of the Rappaport Institute

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, said: “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.