Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund: Grants for LGBT

OVERVIEW: Based in San Francisco, the Haas Fund made history by officially endorsing marriage equality in 2001, becoming the first foundation of any kind to do so.  Haas's current LGBT work has three main areas of focus: defending marriage equality and LGBT rights through litigation, public education "about how the freedom to marry does not infringe on religious liberty," and raising awareness about anti-LGBT discrimination "and the need for protective policies," though Haas also funds several other areas related to LGBT rights.

IP TAKE: The Haas Fund is a pioneer in marriage equality and awards large-scale grants for a range of LGBT-related work. However, grant proposals are by invitation only, and has clearly stated on its web site that few resources exist for new grantseekers.

PROFILE: Walter Haas Jr. and Evelyn Haas established their San Francisco-based foundation in 1953.  The foundation's expressed vision is to help create a "just and compassionate society where all people have the opportunity to live, work and raise their families with dignity."  Leadership of Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund has remained in the Haas family, with three of the late founders' children currently serving on the board. In the more than six decades since its founding, the foundation has awarded more than $500 million in grants, and in recent years its total annual grants have ranged from $23 million to more than $32 million.

The Haas Fund has five stated areas of interest: immigrant rights, gay and lesbian rights, education equity, the Haas Leadership Initiative (focused on leadership development for nonprofits and public agencies), and Community Partnerships and Initiatives (focused specifically on projects and organizations in the Bay Area of California).  In terms of geographic dispersal, in a recent year, more than half of Hass's grants were awarded to grantees based in California, with the remainder going to "nationwide" efforts.

In terms of its LGBT work, Haas lays claim to being "the first foundation to support marriage equality," which it did in 2001, when it provided $2.5 million in funding for the marriage equality organization Freedom to Marry. The fund is also a member of the Civil Marriage Collaborative, a network of leading funders in the marriage equality movement, and continues to urge its peers who are not already on board with the CMC to do so.

In light of the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing marriage equality, Haas's LGBT work has stated three main areas of focus: defending marriage equality and LGBT rights through litigation, public education "about how the freedom to marry does not infringe on religious liberty," and raising awareness about anti-LGBT discrimination "and the need for protective policies."  Indeed, in a recent interview, Senior Program Director for Gay and Lesbian Rights Matt Foreman specifically mentioned anti-LGBT discrimination as a major challenge for the movement going forward.  

While in previous years the majority of LGBT-related grants were directed at marriage equality, additional areas that have received funding from Haas are advocacy for LGBT people of color, transgender rights, various types of discrimination, acceptance of LGBT people in faith communities, education campaigns, and media awareness. Regarding funding levels, LGBT grantmaking at Haas is generally on a larger scale (a database of recent grant recipients and award sizes can be found here).  Haas is explicit about its preference for grant proposals of $25,000 or more and that the amount requested represent no more than 20% of the overall budget.  

Owing to "significant commitments to current grantees and the clarity of our grantmaking strategies," Haas is currently accepting grant proposals by invitation only.  Additional information about Haas' funding preferences can be found on its FAQ page.

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