The Jacobson Family Trust Foundation is the charitable vehicle of Jonathon Jacobson and his wife Joanna. The foundation does most of its grantmaking in Boston and its surrounding areas. Jacobson takes a venture approach to its philanthropy and also provides consulting. This is a Boston-area funder that grantseekers should keep in mind for several reasons. For one, the foundation posted assets of nearly half a billion dollars in 2013, and gave away over $20 million that year. These numbers may well be higher now.
As well, Joanna has made an impact on Boston area philanthropy by founding Strategic Grant Partners (SGP), which is also both a pro bono consulting firm and a foundation. SGP has given around $60 million to almost 50 grantees so far, working in areas such as education and health in Massachusetts. One supporter of SGP is billionaire couple Seth and Beth Klarman and their Klarman Family Foundation, which is also a robust Boston funder.
Here are a few things to know about Jacobson's Boston area grantmaking:
1. Supporting Youth is a High Priority
Jacobson has a clear interest in improving youth outcomes. Major grantees in this space include Year Up, and City Year. City Year partners with high-need public schools to provide full-time targeted student interventions. Perhaps the largest money in recent years has gone to Youth Villages, which received a multi-year, $8 million pledge. Youth Villages is a Memphis-headquartered nonprofit with Massachusetts locations which runs a host of programs supporting at-risk youth. Joanna sits on the board of the outfit.
2. The Foundation Supports Education Reform
Joanna sits on the board of Edward Brooke Charter Management, a group of charter schools. In 2013, the couple gave at least $1 million to Unlocking Potential, now known as the UP Education Network, a network of tuition-free public elementary and middle schools in Massachusetts. Another charter the couple has supported is Boston Bridge. In higher education, Brandeis University has received millions, and more modest sums have gone to the couple's alma mater, Harvard.
3. Jacobson Supports Jewish Causes
Recent significant sums have gone to outfits like the American Israel Education Foundation, and Brandeis University, which Jacobson supported with a $1 million grant in 2013 towards the Jehuda Reinharz Chair.
Health isn't a huge interest of Jacobson, but recent money has gone to Boston health outfits such as Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. As well, a steady stream of money has flowed from the Jacobson Family Trust Foundation to SGP.