Kimberly Haskins, Barr Foundation

TITLE:Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS:Early childhood education

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: As a senior education program officer for the Barr Foundation, Haskins has been a leader in its early childhood plan, which was recently refined.

PROFILE: The Barr Foundation places signficant emphasis on its early childhood education giving; it accounts for roughly 35 percent of all funds dispersed by the foundation. But Barr, and Kimberly Haskins as Barr's senior program officer, is always trying to improve too. In a Barr Foundation blog post, Haskins highlighted the recently revised funding guidelines and more-focused goals:

"Historically, Barr expressed its early education goal as 'all children have access to quality. Going forward, Barr's goal will be that 'Boston's children enter school ready to learn and are reading proficiently by third grade.' This change recognizes the need to focus not only on quality, but on outcomes for children."

Measuring success has certainly been a trend in philanthropy in recent years, and at the Barr Foundation that idea has taken hold. By focusing on reading proficiency, the foundation now has a clear threshold for success, first-grade literacy and third-grade reading scores, and with this revised strategy, the program has also honed in on other aspects of its approach.

For instance, the program expanded its targeted population from children ages 3-5 old to children from birth to 5 years old, and the program will now focus on low-income students in Boston's Circle of Promise and English Language Learners. For fundraisers, it will also be important to continue to watch how Barr's early childhood program evolves. And be sure to note, unlike some other program areas at the Barr Foundation, education funding is restricted to the city of Boston.

Haskins is very familiar with her geographic area of funding. Before joining the Barr Foundation, she was a senior director for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and an auditor for Bank of Boston (now Bank of America). Haskins also really understands the innerworkings of philanthropy and administration. She has a bachelor's degree in management science from MIT and an MBA from Boston University with a concentration in public and nonprofit management. 

Haskins education, work experience, and deep familiarity with the Boston area most likely all lend themselves to her ability and comfort level when it comes to thinking big, but she also appreciates the power of implementing big ideas on a small scale. In another Barr Foundation blog post, Haskin reflects on a visit to Springfield, MA, visiting a successful education program they implemented there, and feeling inspired by how it could be translatable to Boston's needs. She wrote:

"I kept thinking about. . . Springfield’s initial decision to focus on just 180 families in two housing developments. While that may seem like a small number compared to the city as a whole, it is actually a just-right number. It is small enough for results to be achievable and to make real differences in the lives of participating families. At the same time, because of all the different agencies and organizations that intersect at these two housing developments, that number is just big enough to change how a whole system of supports interacts with families citywide. This was a big takeaway for me for our work in Boston." 

Kim has been a senior director for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, where she managed a team of staff and volunteers responsible for the annual investment in community-based organizations, and an auditor for Bank of Boston (now Bank of America). Kim has an MBA and a Certificate of Nonprofit Management from Boston University’s School of Management and a Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. - See more at:

Haskins also endorses the micro-scale by overseeing the foundation's prestigious Fellowship Program. Each year, 12 non-profit and public education leaders are selected for fellowships, which include a three-month sabbatical, training opportunities, and access to a diverse network of non-profit leaders in the city. "The Fellowship is intended to rejuvenate great leaders so they continue to make significant contributions in the non-profit sector hopefully in the Boston area," the foundation's fellowship page states. "The Fellowship is intended to build a network of boundary-crossing leaders, who are diverse in race, ethnicity, discipline, age, and gender, and whose actions build a more inclusive civic table in Boston."

The success of the program is starting to get attention across the philanthropy sector. In 2012 the Stanford Social Innovation Reviewhighlighted the program, for example. Barr Foundation staff also published articles about the theory, implementation, and evaluation of the Fellowship in the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and the Foundation Review. The foundation has a wealth of information online about the program, including these articles, a FAQ section, and an in-depth overview. This Barr Foundation video below also highlights the mission of the fellowships.