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The mission of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund is to help build a healthy, just and vibrant society in which people feel connected to and responsible for their community.

Our Shared Vision

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

A diverse society requires diverse types of support in order to secure its members’ health, justice, and vibrancy. Promoting this equity has been an inherent part of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund’s mission for over sixty years. It is why we remain as committed to access to the arts as we do to high quality public education, as supportive of disaster preparedness as we are of economic mobility, and as cognizant of the need to support the tattered safety net as to be connected to our faith and community.

However, the challenges our community faces change and become more complex with every passing year, requiring us to continually question how to both keep a steady hand and make the best use of our human and financial resources.

In 2013, the growing economic equity gap had become a near-permanent part of our social landscape, creating a true threat to democracy and civil society. While maintaining our local focus on asset development and workforce programming, we increased our focus on national tax policy. The National Asset Funders Network, which we helped to launch, is playing a leading role in identifying changes to the tax code that could improve the financial resilience of millions of low-income households.  Congressional action may be a long way off, but the development of a common policy agenda, and the alignment of dozens of local, regional, and national organizations on tax policy reform is an important starting point.

This is just one example of the Fund’s commitment to making a difference. Philanthropy is a unique business; there is no profit motive, and minimal regulation. Its effectiveness is wholly dependent on the values, experiences, and vision of its trustees and staff. It is heartening to be in leadership of a foundation so committed to the common good, respectful of our community partners, and concerned with their capacity and sustainability.

We are also committed to place – to San Francisco and Alameda counties – in a time where it often seems easier to look for problems to solve far from home. We have chosen hard areas of work in which “solutions” are neither obvious nor easily attainable. But, at the same time, we are committed to moving the needle, helping figure out strategies and tactics that can, in fact, make real differences in real people’s lives.

We also realize the widening economic equity gap has heavily impacted the nonprofit community, without whom we cannot function. It is they who are the agents of change – who do the hard work in community, day in and day out. They are profoundly impacted by the shrinking flow of public dollars going to community-based organizations, by increased demands from their constituents, and by rising rents and other basic operating costs.

Haas, Sr. Fund trustees have responded with increased multi-year support to grantees in the arts, economic security, education, and Jewish life, and balanced these with targeted investments in nonprofit leadership and policy initiatives. In addition, trustees recommitted an annual $1 million to Safety Net funding, supporting the region’s pipeline to housing and food security.

We also continue to fund local disaster preparation efforts. In the Bay Area, it is not a matter of if a disaster will strike, but when. We’ve learned from Loma Prieta and Katrina that low-income communities are disproportionately devastated by crises; the resiliency that effective disaster preparedness can build supports communities to address a range of crises, natural and man-made.

The Fund also gained a new Education program officer in 2013, Susan Kagehiro. Susan came to the Fund after several years of experience at the San Francisco Unified School District. Like several other staff here, Susan brings deep understanding of the public sector, and what it takes to move large, unwieldy systems. We are excited about how Susan will move forward the Fund’s focus on educational equity and shrinking the achievement gap.

With other staff, Susan has been an important voice in shaping strategies, goals and metrics for HOPE SF, the large-scale initiative to rebuild and revitalize public housing communities. Overall, the Fund continues to provide both intellectual and financial resources to this city-led venture to improve opportunities and outcomes for public housing residents as mixed income communities are built around them.

One can view effective philanthropy as a dance, fitting given our support to the arts. It is about balance, the hundreds, if not thousands, of micro adjustments needed to react to changes that could and do come from every direction.

For those of us at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, it is about balancing the family legacy with the challenges of today, of balancing long-term relationships with the need for new approaches to old problems, of balancing the reality of being a modest-sized locally-focused family foundation with the desire to make real change. To the degree that we are successful in maintaining our balance, much of the credit is due to our partners—in philanthropy, community, and government. The issues we face are huge. What we seek to accomplish, we seek to accomplish together.

With great respect,

Jennifer C. Haas
President, Board of Trustees

Pamela H. David
Executive Director

Program Areas

The Arts

to enable Bay Area residents to realize the full potential of the arts to build cross-cultural understanding, preserve cultural heritage, and enrich individual lives.

Economic Security

to help low-income adults and families achieve upward mobility and economic security through workforce development and the building of financial assets.


to improve the quality of public education by building effective school communities through focus on creating the conditions for quality teaching and learning.

Jewish Life

to foster a vibrant, inclusive Jewish community that offers opportunities for engagement in Jewish life and encourages participation in our broader society.

Other Interests

to include grantmaking that has a direct relationship to Walter and Elise Haas, that supports the Fund's mission, and that responds to emerging community needs.


Grants Paid by Program Area

Grants Paid by Program Area

Statement of Financial Position

Statement of Financial Position

Change in Net Assets

Change in Net Assets

Download the 990-PF

©2024 Walter & Elise Haas Fund | One Lombard Street, Suite 305, San Francisco, CA 94111 | (415) 398-4474 Walter & Elise Haas Fund Website | Past Annual Reports