Meet the foundations we honored at our 2016 NCRP Impact Awards event in Minneapolis
For most of its 63 years, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund operated primarily as a local foundation supporting local organizations and causes. Starting in the early 2000s, however, the trustees and staff began to recognize that achieving the Fund’s vision of a “just and compassionate society” required deep work at the local, state and national levels to advance rights and create opportunities for all.
Over the last 15 years, the Haas, Jr. Fund has become a leading funder and partner in addressing the issues of immigrant rights, marriage equality and education equity in San Francisco’s schools. It was one of the first foundations in the country to focus on comprehensive immigration reform, while also supporting the statewide immigrant movement in California to advance policies that have become a model for the nation. It was the first foundation to make marriage equality a priority. And, it was the first foundation to partner with the San Francisco Unified School District on a preschool-through-grade-three approach to closing racial achievement gaps.
Partnership and collaboration are hallmarks of the Haas, Jr. Fund’s approach. Together with its funding partners in the Civil Marriage Collaborative, the foundation convened and supported the leaders of the movement for marriage equality to develop a shared vision and plan that helped lead to the Supreme Court’s historic Obergefell v. Hodges decision in June 2015. On the immigration issue, the Fund is collaborating with other California funders to advance a positive vision for state-level reforms and to increase civic participation in immigrant communities across the state.
Another hallmark of the Fund’s work is an enduring commitment to investing in leadership. Through the Haas Leadership Initiative, the foundation is seeking to advance solutions that enable social sector leaders to get better results for their organizations and movements. The initiative includes custom-tailored leadership development support for grantees, fellowships to develop emerging leaders for the social movements the Fund supports, and research and advocacy to advance the field of nonprofit leadership.
Despite working at the state level and nationally on urgent social justice issues, the Fund has never lost sight of its local roots. In addition to its close collaboration with the local school district, the foundation co-founded the San Francisco Beacon Initiative, which transforms public schools into hubs of activity for the surrounding neighborhoods.
Haas, Jr. Fund is perhaps best known in the Bay area as a key player (and investor) in the transformation of Crissy Field into a world-class national park that attracts 1 million visitors each year. The Fund also has provided significant support to U.C. Berkeley as it launched a sweeping effort to make equity and inclusion a priority in every corner of the Berkeley campus. And, it continues to play a leadership role in the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, which in 30 years has distributed more than $105 million to low-income Bay Area residents in need.
Whether at the local, state or national levels, the Haas, Jr. Fund strives to live its values and to seek opportunities that help expand access and opportunity for everyone.
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