Wagner Family Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Wagner Family Foundation was established from Herbert S. Wagner III's success as an investment banker with the Baupost Group in Boston. Although the foundation does not accept unsolicited grant applications, it awards much of its grant money to Massachusetts organizations in education, medicine, and human services.

FOCUS AREAS: Health, economic, institutional fairness, culture

IP TAKE: This foundation has become more transparent and accessible to local grantseekers in recent years.

PROFILE: Established in 2005, the Wagner Foundation is the foundation of Herbert S. Wagner III and his wife, Charlotte Wagner. Until 2012, Wagner was managing director of the Baupost Group, overseeing billions of dollars of mortgage debt, structured products, and equity investments. Before that, he rose through the ranks at Appaloosa Management L.P., Putnam Investments, and the First National Bank of Chicago (a.k.a. JPMorgan Chase). Charlotte Wagner is the founder and CEO of this foundation. Grantmaking interests are health, economic, institutional fairness, and culture.

In the past, this foundation focused pretty exclusively on the Boston community and awarded grants to elementary and secondary school programs, universities, hospitals, and human services organizations. Today, it has expanded to focus on national and international efforts too. The foundation now has its own dedicated staff. It now looks for strong leadership, creativity, collaboration, ambition, and strategic approaches. Priorities are quality healthcare services and infrastructure, access to economic opportunity, criminal justice reform, and access to the arts. Past grantees in the city have included Partners in Health, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.

Historically, grants have ranged from $2,500 to $2 million each. View a list of past grantees on the funder’s website. Massachusetts is still a focal point of the foundation, so Boston groups still have a good chance of funding. The foundation does not publish grantmaking guidelines on its website.

The Wagner Foundation does not typically accept unsolicited grant applications from nonprofits. Contact the foundation staff at 617-868-0920 or info@wfound.org.


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