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The Heinz Endowments


Last Updated: 2016-01-11

At A Glance

The Heinz Endowments

30 Dominion Twr., 625 Liberty Ave., 30th Fl.

Pittsburgh, PA United States 15222-3115

Telephone: (412) 281-5777


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business; Politics

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $1,620,611,867

Total giving: $73,537,684






The Heinz Endowments was formed in 2007 from the Howard Heinz Endowments, established in 1941, and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, established in 1986 - The Howard Heinz Endowment was established in 1941. The Vira I. Heinz Endowment was established in 1986. In Jan. 2007, the Vira I. Heinz Endowment merged into the Howard Heinz Endowment, and the organization changed its name to The Heinz Endowments. Howard Heinz, the son of Henry John and Sarah Young Heinz, was born near Sharpsburg, a Pittsburgh suburb, on Aug. 27, 1877. After graduating from Shady Side Academy and Yale University, he began working full time for the H. J. Heinz Co. in 1900, serving as advertising manager, sales manager, vice president and eventually president.He was a director or trustee of the Pennsylvania Railroad; Mellon Bank, N.A.; National Industrial Conference Board; Pittsburgh Regional Planning Association; Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce; University of Pittsburgh; Carnegie Institute; Shady Side Academy; Western Pennsylvania Hospital; and the Pittsburgh Symphony Society. He also served as a ruling elder at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Mr. Heinz died on Feb. 9, 1941. He bequeathed his residual estate to the Howard Heinz Endowment for philanthropic purposes. Vira I. Heinz was born Vira M. Ingham in what is now Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood. In 1932 she married Clifford S. Heinz, son of Henry J. Heinz, founder of the food processing company. Clifford Heinz died in 1935. During more than four decades that followed, Mrs. Heinz was active in the philanthropic and civic work for which she is now remembered.

Purpose and Activities

The Heinz Endowments is based in Pittsburgh, where it uses its region as a laboratory for the development of solutions to challenges that are national in scope. Although the majority of its giving is concentrated within southwestern Pennsylvania, it does work wherever necessary, including statewide and nationally, to fulfill its mission. That mission is to help the Endowments' region thrive as a whole community, economically, ecologically, educationally and culturally, while advancing the state of knowledge and practice in the fields in which it works. Its fields of emphasis include philanthropy in general and the disciplines represented by its five grant-making programs: Arts & Culture; Children, Youth & Families; Community & Economic Development; Education; and Environment.

Program Area(s)

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

Arts and Culture

The Endowments' board and staff believe that arts and culture are vital to the health and well being of individuals, communities and the larger world; that creative expression is one of life's most powerful and positive impulses; and that access to and exercise of creative expression is and should be an important part of life. In addition to the importance of creative expression for its own sake, The Arts & Culture staff embraces the idea that arts can contribute to many other aspects of community life, including education, the civic life and economic development. Thus, the Endowments structures its arts and culture giving to promote both intrinsic and instrumental values in the arts. Given the current system of arts funding in the United States, and the role that the arts play in the larger economy, private philanthropy can play a pivotal role in the success of the cultural community and in the public's involvement in that community. The Arts & Culture staff believes in the concept of an arts "ecology" that embraces all the various manifestations of art and culture in a community. The foundation's overall goal is to help make the Pittsburgh region one of the country's outstanding arts centers, with a populace that appreciates and participates in the arts. The challenge for the Endowments is to identify important parts of the non profit ecology in which it can have the most impact. In choosing areas of focus, the Arts & Culture staff considers how the work can advance the grant making of other program areas at the Endowments. Also in its grant making, the Arts & Culture staff seeks to strengthen the foundation's values of diversity and sustainability. The staff also works to support those who produce high quality art of diverse styles and disciplines and to engage as broad a public as possible. The Endowments is committed to providing equitable access to the region's cultural resources. Within the program's three goal areas, the following theories or approaches predominate: the importance of operating support and multi-year funding; the key role of intermediary organizations in strengthening the arts ecology; the importance of diversity in size, cultural origin and mission; a focus on artistic excellence; and the value of equitable access to arts and cultural resources. For more information call (412) 338-2693.

Children, Youth and Families

The program has had a longstanding commitment to improving the lives of families and children, with a particular focus on the disadvantaged. The program helps children become stronger, more capable learners; assists families to become self-sufficient and critical partners in improving children's learning and healthy development; and guides youth to evolve into more successful, more productive citizens. There are many challenges to meeting these goals. Not enough children are receiving the indisputable benefits of high-quality early care and education or health care. Many parents, particularly those in low-income situations, are not able to connect to economic-improvement opportunities or parenting information that would boost the quality of their family lives. For adolescents in the region, access to quality, engaging out-of-school-time programs is limited. If these deficiencies in community infrastructure are not addressed, a significant percentage of the population will be left behind. CY&F staff is dedicated to supporting initiatives that eliminate these deficiencies, which affect the health of the entire region.For more information call (412) 338-2615.

Community & Economic Development

The Endowments' grant-making program devoted to increasing economic opportunity in the Pittsburgh region has a new director and a new focus, underscoring the foundation’s decision to broaden its grant making to include significant economic development in specific geographic areas. The program area will continue to support technology industry sectors and seed innovative ideas in emerging lines of business as it has for most of the past six years. Staff is now working to update the goals and strategies to better reflect the exciting opportunities offered in the new direction of this program area, and they will be posted to this section of the site soon .


Although this country's education system has been the primary means for achieving a more inclusive society, its public school systems have failed to provide African American students and students who live in poverty, equitable, high-quality learning experiences. This long-standing failure has perpetuated, through systems of mostly segregated schools with inadequate funding, social injustices based on race and socio-economic status. Among the most damaging effects are policies and practices that encourage low expectations on the part of both educators and students. The end result is a destructive pattern where shockingly high percentages of African American students and those in poverty disengage from the learning process, fail to achieve, drop out of high school and experience diminished life outcomes. The starting point for this depressing pattern is traced most often to the country's middle and high schools where preschool and early elementary learning successes are squandered. It is in this sixth- through 12th -grade period where students all too often face non-challenging, depersonalized environments that lead to a stalling of their earlier academic progress. Too often, expectations differ based upon a student's socio-economic circumstances or ethnic identity. Opportunities to engage in culturally responsive, rich and collaborative educational experiences are rare for the very students who need them most. Volumes of research and expert observation establish that the quality of the entire education track - from preschool through high school - is a key determiner of how well these students will be able to attain broader social engagement and life fulfillment. Educators in the best education systems understand that providing a solid foundation of learning success for these students in their early years is essential to ensure continued academic success. But they also realize that the early foundation is only the beginning of a learning process that is strong enough to enable these students to graduate and reach their best life potential. After months of evaluating its grant-making history in pursuit of the goal of education equity in southwestern Pennsylvania, especially in supporting efforts to provide high-quality learning experiences to all students, The Heinz Endowments is recommitting to achieve this goal. The Endowments recognizes that each stage of the educational process needs to play its part in sustaining learning progress for all students, and is therefore focusing its attention on middle schools and high schools throughout Allegheny County, with a special concentration on the Pittsburgh Public Schools and organizations that partner with them. By supporting the development of secondary school environments that respond to a range of needs, abilities, experiences and interests; respect racial and cultural differences; and value the contributions of all students, the Endowments believes that African American students and students at the low end of the economy can be affirmed in their abilities, graduate high school, successfully complete post-secondary education and have fulfilling lives.For more information call (412) 338-2621.


The program focuses on a range of issues, recognizing that southwestern Pennsylvania is highly complex ecologically, economically and politically. Known globally for industrial production prior to and during World War II, Pittsburgh experienced a correspondingly high level of pollution. After suffering a long and brutal economic downturn in the 1980s with the collapse of the steel industry and related manufacturing, the Pittsburgh region is recovering economically. The region also is making strides on the environmental cleaning and preservation front. That reality frames a regional grant-making strategy that includes addressing legacy issues such as high lead exposure, policy issues such as poor land-use planning and infrastructure issues such as a crumbling sewer system. It also incorporates supporting opportunities for technological innovation, such as projects that have helped the region become a leading green-building center in the United States. The Environment Program funds work designed to transform systems so that environmental problems are not created in the first place. It also supports efforts to reduce the damage currently being done by unsustainable practices, especially where people and nature are directly affected. Staff looks for programs and initiatives that help repair the damage caused by unsustainable practices. This is especially important in cases where pollutants and toxins from damaged ecosystems threaten the health of future generations. Staff also looks for situations where other sources of capital investment are not available to correct an environmental problem, and where health consequences disproportionately affect minority or other vulnerable and disenfranchised groups. For more information call (412) 338-2627.

Program-Related Investment

The foundation, through its various incarnations, has made PRIs in the form of loans since 1996 to an organization that provides capital investments and customized company information and business growth services to regional life sciences enterprises.

Fields of Interest

  • Arts and culture
  • Child welfare
  • Economic development
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Family services
  • Sustainable development
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Dropouts
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Female children and youth
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Male children and youth
  • People of African descent
  • Students
  • Young adults

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $1,620,611,867 (market value)

Expenditures: $90,540,703

Total giving: $73,537,684

Qualifying distributions: $83,702,652

Giving activities include:

$73,537,684 for grants

$479,276 for 4 foundation-administered programs

$1,552,500 for 1 loan/program-related investment