Hellman Foundation: Grants for the Bay Area

OVERVIEW: The Hellman Foundation supports local Bay Area organizations in the areas of education, youth development, health access, and basic needs.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, youth development, health access, and basic needs

IP TAKE: This is a locally focused funder overseen by a family but managed by a company of philanthropic advisors. Contact the advisors with any questions about grantmaking.

PROFILE: Established in 2011, the Hellman Foundation is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and is committed to local grantmaking here. This is the foundation of Warren and Chris Hellman, who were known for their generosity and commitment to causes they cared about. Warren Hellman was born into a prominent family in California, and he found success establishing two premier private equity firms and helping to create several other alternative investment management firms. He has served as chairman of the San Francisco Foundation, trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation, and as a member of the Jewish Community Federation. As a banjo player, he also inspired the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, a free annual music event in Golden Gate Park. Chris Hellman was a ballerina who danced with London’s Festival Ballet. Later in life, she developed Alzheimer’s disease but was always passionate about supporting the arts through philanthropy. She was a member of the board and chair of the board of trustees for the San Francisco Ballet for many years. The foundation formed when Warren passed away in 2011, and the Hellman Family Foundation merged with the Hellman Foundation in 2013. Grantmaking includes education. youth development, health access, and basic needs.

In a recent year, the foundation’s grantmaking budget was approximately $13.5 million. It tends to award grants to more than 130 organizations per year, and grantmaking has been on the rise.  The funder anticipates that its funding areas and strategy will evolve and change in the years ahead. Past grantees have included the Bay Area Discovery Museum for Children’s Creativity, the San Francisco Education Fund, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The Hellman Fellows program has been around longer than the foundation, since 1994. This program provides grants to colleges and universities to support junior faculty research. However, this is a separate funding entity and does not receive funding from the Hellman Foundation. An initiative for community organizations is Hellman’s Collaborative Change Initiative, which involves boosting collaborative ventures to solve community problems. Collaborations in San Francisco and Alameda Counties were awarded grants to pilot this program, including Children’s Oral Health Collaborative, Oakland Starting Smart and Strong Initiative, and EatSF Fruit and Vegetable Voucher Program.

Foundation grants are often several thousand dollars each. View recent grantees on the funder's website. Funding is focused on the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

The Hellman Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals for grants. It does not have its own staff but is managed by Hirsch & Associates, LLC, Philanthropic Advisors. To get in touch with the advisory staff, call 415-837-5408 or submit an inquiry via online form.

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