Nancy Lee, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

TITLE: Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education and community college student success

CONTACT:, (415) 856-1400

IP TAKE: Lee has been helping foundations and nonprofit organizations serve low-income and minority students for over 30 years. Haas' education program is pretty narrow, and only programs that close the achievement gap and are in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District are considered for grants.

PROFILE: The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund is best known for its gay rights and immigrant inclusion programs, but it also funds grants for education equity each year. With over three decades of experience in improving the lives of low-income children and families, Nancy Lee is the perfect person to spearhead Haas' education program. (Read Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund: Bay Area Grants).

Lee is an immigrant from Hong Kong who has worked with a smattering of public and private funders in the field of education and youth development. Some of these funders include the San Francisco Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Families. She once worked as an aide to California Assemblyman, John Burton, where she gained experience in public policy and policy organizing. Lee is a proud product of San Francisco's public schools, all the way through receiving her master's degree from San Francisco State University is in social work, with an emphasis in community organizing.

At the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Lee manages the Education Equity program, which has partnered up with the San Francisco school district and City College to close the achievement gap for students of color and English language learners. She is credited for developing and overseeing programs for Team-Up for Youth, a nonprofit intermediary that provided sports to over 15,000 Bay Area students. Now known as Coaching Corps, this program levels the playing field in low-income, minority neighborhoods so that more kids can get active, involved, and competitive. 

Lee is also credited with creating a well-received welfare reform program in Oakland and implementing a successful early childhood initiative in Alameda County. She is a former Coro Fellow, and she's served on the Alameda County Human Relations Commission and on the board of the East Bay's United Way. Over the years, Lee has taken the spirit of philanthropy out of the office and into her personal life. She has volunteered with a number of organizations, including Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinatown YMCA, and the Asian Law Caucus. 

The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund's education program focuses on African American and Latino children in San Francisco's public schools. In her position, Lee is doing her best to make race and family income have less of an influence in determining the success of students from preschool to high school. As with many foundations in the area, the preschool to 3rd grade demographic is of particular concern. Programs that do the following in San Francisco are the ones that Lee is looking to fund:

  • Help the district take its recent early education reforms to scale
  • Strengthen school-community partnerships in early education
  • Build the skills and capacity of senior district leaders
  • Create a district-wide plan for consistent learning
  • Strengthen school-to-college connections

Haas education grants are made by invitation only. Unlike some other foundations in the Bay Area, Haas' education funding supports very specific strategies, so you should be able to determine whether you're eligible for a grant right off the bat. To learn more about Lee's education program at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, check out the foundation's Closing the Achievement Gap section.