Walter & Elise Haas Fund

OVERVIEW: The Walter and Elise Haas Fund supports arts, education, economic security, safety net services and Jewish life in the Bay Area.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and culture, economic security, Jewish life, safety net, education

 IP TAKE: The arts are a big deal to the Walter and Elise Haas Fund staff and board. Although arts education gets a significant portion of the funding attention, cultural diversity programs and cultural heritage programs also receive Haas support.

PROFILE: Established in 1952, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund is the foundation of Walter A. Haas Sr. and his wife, Elise, as an enduring commitment to the city of San Francisco. The Fund was founded “to help build a healthy, just, and vibrant society in which people feel connected to and responsible for their community.” There are five primary grantmaking interest areas: the arts, economic security, safety net, Jewish life, and education.

The Haas Fund significant support to the arts. This funding generally falls in three categories: arts education, art which builds community, and art projects that foster collaboration. Programs that target low-income students, reflect contemporary art practices, and communicate across cultures with media tend to gain the most Haas support. Past art grantees include The Asian Art Museum Foundation of San Francisco, ArtPlace@Prescot, and the American Conservatory Theater. Haas’ economic security interests lie in workforce development, building and protecting assets, and public policy and systems change. Under this umbrella, grantees provide vocational training programs, community college partners, entrepreneurial support, professional development, and advocacy and reform causes. Past economic security grantees include Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project, Asset Funders Network, and Beyond Emancipation. 

Haas education support revolves around public education, with a particular focus on attracting, training, and supporting high quality teachers in urban public schools. Haas grants tend to fund collaborative projects in this area. Along these lines, recent grantees include the following: Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network, the New Teacher Center, and Aim High for High School. Haas’ Jewish life grants go towards organizations that promote diversity and build partnerships for social justice. Past Jewish life grants have gone to Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and Faith in Action Bay Area. Finally, safety net grants provide local residents with food, shelter and security. Priorities are food and shelter programs and crisis services related to mental health and domestic violence.

Historically, many Haas grants have fallen between $25,000 and $125,000. View recent grants on the funder’s website. For most program areas, grantees must be based in or managing significant activities in San Francisco or Alameda County. Within Alameda County, highest priority is given to projects in Oakland and Berkeley. Some programs have grantees in the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma. 

The foundation accepts brief letters of inquiry from nonprofits on an ongoing basis. Nonprofits can expect to hear back with a decision within six weeks and know whether a full application is requested. Direct general questions to the foundation staff at 415-398-4474.

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