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The Hyams Foundation, Inc.


Last Updated: 2016-06-06

At A Glance

The Hyams Foundation, Inc.

(formerly Sarah A. Hyams Fund)

50 Federal St., 9th Fl.

Boston, MA United States 02110-2509

Telephone: (617) 426-5600


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $144,476,543

Total giving: $5,283,888





Additional Contact Information

Contact for questions regarding application process: Shani Pankam:; (617) 426-5600 ext. 300


Established in 1929 in MA as the Sarah A. Hyams Fund; in 1991 merged with the Godfrey Hyams Trust and adopted current name - Godfrey M. Hyams was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1859. As a child he moved with his family to Boston, where he graduated from Boston English High School and Harvard College. Metallurgist, engineer and financier, he was responsible for the growth of such companies as the Anaconda Mining Company. He also planned and managed the construction of the Virginia Railway, which made available large sources of bituminous coal to the eastern part of the United States. To assure that his money would be used for charitable purposes in perpetuity, Mr. Hyams established a charitable trust in 1921 to which the major portion of his estate was given upon his death in 1927. In 1929 the major distribution of assets was made by the estate of Godfrey M. Hyams to the Godfrey M. Hyams Trust. At that time the trustees organized two Massachusetts charitable corporations, the Sarah A. Hyams Fund and the Isabel F. Hyams Fund, and transferred approximately $1,500,000 worth of securities to each of these two corporations. For many years the Godfrey M. Hyams Trust and the smaller Sarah A. Hyams Fund had identical trustees and grantmaking purposes and processes. During 1993, the trustees voted to merge the Trust into the Sarah H. Hyams Fund and rename it The Hyams Foundation, Inc. The trustees of The Hyams Foundation, Inc. also serve as trustees of the Isabel F. Hyams Fund, a public charity which devotes all of its income to operations in East Boston. 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 foundation is to increase economic, social justice and power within low-income communities. The foundation believes that investing in strategies that enable low-income people to increase their communities will have the greatest social return in these times. The foundation will carry out its mission by: supporting civic participation by low-income communities; promoting economic development that benefits low-income neighborhoods and their residents; and developing the talents and skills of low-income youth.

Program Area(s)

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

Affordable Housing: Community Organizing

The foundation supports organizations, coalitions and networks that have a demonstrated commitment to affecting public policies and that have identified one or more issue areas relating to housing that impact low-income and racially diverse households as a focus for their advocacy efforts.To learn more about affordable housing contact Maria Mulkeen, e-mail:

Affordable Housing: Production and Preservation

The foundation’s current grantmaking under Geographically-Targeted Affordable Housing Production and Preservation strategy is targeted to specific geographic areas in Boston and Chelsea. Available funding in this area has been committed, and the foundation is unable to consider new applications at this time.To learn more about affordable housing contact Maria Mulkeen, e-mail:

Civic Engagement: Grassroots Leadership Development

The foundation makes grants to increase the capacity and effectiveness of individual organizations and collaborations of organizations, especially those led by people of color, immigrants and/or teens, to incorporate civic engagement, leadership development and community organizing of community members as an integral part of their approach to identifying and solving community issues. Applicants in this area should thoroughly review the following documents found on the foundation's web site: Grassroots Leadership Development logic model, GLD Indicators of Organizational Capacity and GLD Program Outcome Chart. To learn more about civic engagement contact David Moy, e-mail:

Civic Engagement: Public Policy/Community Organizing

The foundation will support advocacy and organizing that have the potential to change public policy and increase resources to maintain civil rights and promote greater civic engagement. Grants in this area will be made based on the extent to which applicant organizations carry out and align their work with the foundation’s Public Policy/Community Organizing Framework and Logic Model, which can be found on the foundation's web site. Operating, project/program and/or capacity-building grants will be made to individual organizations, coalitions or networks that meet the public policy criteria. Requests also will be considered from organizations that develop this capacity. To learn more about civic engagement contact David Moy, e-mail:

Civic Engagement: Voter Engagement

The foundation views voting as the fundamental way for people to exercise their individual and collective power and ensure that public policies are reflective of and responsive to diverse communities. However, in both Boston and Chelsea, low-income neighborhoods of color have lower rates of electoral participation, and people of color are under-represented in elected and appointed positions in municipal offices and state government. To address these disparities, the foundation will continue to support a funders collaborative called the Civic Engagement Initiative (CEI). CEI funds an intermediary organization, MassVote, to re-grant and provide technical assistance to community-based organizations. The foundation also makes a very limited number of direct grants to support voter engagement work among community-based organizations with a demonstrated ability to organize and engage community members.To learn more about civic engagement contact David Moy, e-mail:

Program Related Investing

The foundation seeks opportunities to use PRIs that will further the impact of the funding strategies under all three of its major program goals. To learn more about PRIs or to inquire about a specific PRI opportunity contact Angela Brown, e-mail:

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has made PRIs in the form of loans to a social venture fund that provides equity financing for businesses in inner-city neighborhoods that lack access to traditional sources of capital. The foundation is now exploring the use of market rate Mission-Related Investments (MRIs). PRIs are common in the housing arena, but are being explored in all of the foundation's funding areas.

Racial Justice

The Special Opportunities Fund (SOF) provides an additional way for the foundation to support specific efforts to advance racial equity in greater Boston. The SOF provides the flexibility to support a limited number of initiatives that relate to the foundation’s overall mission and commitment to addressing racial and ethnic disparities. The foundation will consider special requests to address disparities that may lie outside of its specific grantmaking strategies in the Civic Engagement, Affordable Housing and Teen Development areas but are related to them. Priority will be given to requests that have a public policy and/or systems change focus. Organizations interested in inquiring about a grant through the SOF must submit a letter of interest to Shani Pankam, e-mail:

Teen Development

The foundation is committed to increasing the long-term success of teens of color and other low-income teens who are at high risk. Under this goal, the foundation supports the following three strategies: (1) Teen Futures, a major five-year effort to re-engage teens who are not in school and not working; (2) Chelsea REACH (Reach Explore Achieve), an after-school program for 7th through 10th graders in Chelsea focused on academic success and career awareness; and (3) public policy and community organizing grants in support of this goal.To learn more about teen development contact Nahir Torres, e-mail:

Unanticipated Community Needs

The Special Opportunities Fund (SOF) also is available to support a limited number of requests each year to address urgent but unanticipated concerns and needs in the community.These funds may not be used to address cash flow or related financial emergencies of individual nonprofit organizations. Organizations interested in inquiring about a grant through the SOF must submit a letter of interest to Shani Pankam, e-mail:

Fields of Interest

  • Adult education
  • Civic participation
  • Community and economic development
  • Democracy
  • Diversity and intergroup relations
  • Family services
  • Housing development
  • Human services
  • Public affairs
  • Sustainable development
  • Urban development
  • Youth development
  • Youth organizing
  • Youth services
Population Groups
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Immigrants
  • LGBTQ people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • People of African descent
  • People of Asian descent
  • People of Latin American descent
  • People with disabilities

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $144,476,543 (market value)

Expenditures: $7,800,239

Total giving: $5,283,888

Qualifying distributions: $6,894,396