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Walter and Elise Haas Fund


Last Updated: 2016-06-09

At A Glance

Walter and Elise Haas Fund

1 Lombard St., Ste. 305

San Francisco, CA United States 94111-1130

Telephone: (415) 398-4474


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Family foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $229,266,015

Total giving: $11,836,309





Additional Contact Information

Additional contact: Patricia Mattox, Admin.


Incorporated in 1952 in CA - Mr. Haas, who died in 1979, was president of Levi Strauss & Co., manufacturers of men's, boys', women's, misses', and children's apparel. Mrs. Haas served as vice-president of the fund until her death in 1990 The grantmaker is a signatory to Philanthropy’s Promise, an initiative of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). By signing on, the grantmaker has committed to allocating the majority of its grantmaking dollars to marginalized communities and at least 25 percent to social justice strategies, such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement

Purpose and Activities

The mission of the fund is to help build a healthy, just, and vibrant society in which people feel connected to and responsible for their community. The areas of focus are the arts and culture, economic security, Jewish life, and public education. In addition, continuing support is provided to organizations that have long established ties to the fund.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Arts and Culture

The purpose of this area is to enable Bay Area residents to realize the full potential of the arts to build cross-cultural understanding and enrich individual lives. The four goals are: 1) Arts Education: To increase creative opportunities for children and youth who otherwise have limited access to studying the arts or to interacting with working artists; 2) Preservation of Cultural Heritage: To strengthen nonprofit organizations dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage, particularly those that are based within and dedicated to sustaining arts traditions in recent immigrant communities; 3) Cultural Commons: Fostering shared understanding and a stronger sense of community through participation in the arts; and 4) via The Creative Work Fund: to foster partnerships between artists and nonprofit organizations to create new work and engage the public in new ways.

Economic Security

The purpose of this area is to help low-income adults and families achieve upward mobility and economic security. It supports programs that address these issues through direct services, public policy reform, and field building. The four goals are: 1) Workforce Development: To help low-income people gain the skills and access necessary to secure quality employment and achieve upward mobility; 2) Build and Protect Assets: To help low-income individuals and families gain and maintain the financial assets that increase economic security and upward mobility; and 3) Public Policy and Systems Change: To encourage changes in public policy, regulatory reform, and the delivery of services to low- and moderate-income people with the goal of increasing opportunities and removing barriers to economic security.

Employee Matching Gifts

The foundation matches the monetary gifts of its officers, trustees, and staff to charitable organizations.

Jewish Life

The purpose of this area is to foster a vibrant, inclusive Jewish community in the Bay Area, that offers opportunities for engagement in Jewish life and that encourages participation in the broader pluralistic society. The two goals are: 1) Promote Diversity: Build a strong and vibrant Jewish community able to harness the strength that results from a diverse population; and 2) Building Partnerships For Social Justice: Create effective partnerships based on shared values such as fairness, equality, and service.

Legacy Grantmaking

This program is designed to fund grants in fields important to the foundation's founders. Of particular note are the following programs: 1) San Francisco Parks: A small percentage of the grantmaking budget is allocated to exceptional community engagement initiatives that support and improve San Francisco's parks and open spaces (letters of inquiry are accepted); 2) Annual Grants: A limited number of grants will be provided to organizations supported by the donors in their lifetimes; 3) Jewish Community Federation: The foundation makes a significant contribution to the federation's annual campaign as a complement to the foundation's own Jewish Life program; 4) Descendent Grants: a small percentage of the foundation's grantmaking is reserved for descendent-initiated grants; 5) End-of-year Grant: The foundation makes a number of small grants to organizations that serve very low-income families and individuals; most of these grants are designed to address some of the special needs that arise during the holiday season.

Mission-Related Special Grantmaking

In keeping with its mission and values, the foundation will continue to be an active participant in its geographic, philanthropic and nonprofit communities. Most of their active engagement will be in one of the primary program areas. However, the foundation recognizes that there may be a relatively small number of special projects consistent with the foundation's mission, values and overall strategy that they would like to participate in. Such projects might involve advancing the effectiveness and accountability of philanthropy, for example, or be in response to extraordinary opportunities or crises facing critical community institutions and organizations.

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has made a PRI in the form of a loan to a center for film and media arts organizations.

Public Education

The purpose of this area is to improve the quality of public education by building effective school communities. The fund gives priority to programs that focus on increasing educational opportunities for underserved students. The three goals are: 1) School Leadership: To help principals and teachers in leadership positions improve practices in schools that result in academic gains for all students; 2) Teacher Quality: To help teachers improve instructional skills to engage students in rigorous, academic pursuits; and 3) Partnerships for School Improvement: To engage parents, youth, and the broader community in activities to improve the quality of education in public schools. The activities may be led by organizations external to the school system or be initiated within the public schools.

The Creative Work Fund

The fund invites artists and nonprofit organizations to create new art works through collaborations. It celebrates the role of artists as problem solvers and the making of art as a profound contribution to intellectual inquiry and to the strengthening of communities. Artists are encouraged to collaborate with nonprofit organizations of all kinds. Grants will be awarded to collaborating 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organizations, not directly to collaborating artists. For more information see:

Fields of Interest

  • Arts and culture
  • Arts education
  • Economic development
  • Education
  • Reform Judaism
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $229,266,015 (market value)

Expenditures: $15,428,065

Total giving: $11,836,309

Qualifying distributions: $14,312,507