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$24.5 million gift announced by Jennifer Haas to help close the racial and gender wealth gap
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$24.5 million gift announced by Jennifer Haas to help close the racial and gender wealth gap

The Walter & Elise Haas Fund’s most substantial philanthropic initiative to date – the Endeavor Fund, is a bold answer to the call from the nonprofit sector for foundations to provide sizable multi-year general operating grants.

With a total investment of $24.5 million, the Endeavor Fund aims to close the racial and gender wealth gap and promote nonprofit well-being, including support for quality, empowering jobs in the nonprofit sector.

Through the Endeavor Fund, seven leading Bay Area organizations have been awarded seven-year grants of $3.5 million each. The seven organizations that form the Endeavor Fund are East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), La Cocina, Oakland Kids First (OKF), Oakland Promise, Young Women’s Freedom Center, and Youth Organize! California (YO! Cali).

By providing seven-year grants, the Endeavor Fund represents a shifting approach to institutional philanthropy that offers the long-term, impactful support needed to fund bold commitments and promote systemic change. This evolution in our approach also enables us to establish strategic, long-lasting partnerships between the Walter & Elise Haas Fund and seven leading organizations combating chronic income inequality.

East Bay Community Law Center’s mural created by former EBCLC staff attorney and clinical supervisor, Anavictoria Avila

“We strongly believe that this shift in practice will drive significant change and promote nonprofit well-being,” said Pui Ling Tam, Walter & Elise Haas Fund Economic Well-being program lead. “We recognize that nonprofits are often constrained by the restricted scope of their funding and are urged to focus on immediate crises at the expense of implementing meaningful, purpose-driven actions. The Endeavor Fund seeks to break from this traditional mold by providing comprehensive support to seven nonprofits that lead the way in promoting community well-being. Our goal is to catalyze a shift in philanthropic practices towards a more holistic approach that prioritizes the well-being of nonprofit employees and promotes systemic change.”

Additionally, the Endeavor Fund is championing quality jobs in the nonprofit sector. At a time when wealth gaps are widening, we believe that philanthropy can work to correct these inequities. The nonprofit sector, which is the third-largest employer in the country and accounts for 800,000 workers in the Bay Area, is often limited by small, unpredictable grants and grant restrictions that can lead to chronic low wages. With the Endeavor Fund, organizations are committed to investing directly in the people who dedicate their time and skills to influencing policy and offering the support that make our community more stable, vibrant, and just.

All of the organizations included in the Endeavor Fund have leadership teams composed of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Their staffs mirror the communities of women, youth, workers, and first-time entrepreneurs that they serve; more often than not, staff are former participants. These organizations explicitly name and demonstrate a strong commitment to equity and work towards promoting systemic change. They share a vision of collective prosperity as they work within the systems they seek to transform: education, government, and employment.

The Endeavor Fund grantees bring over 150 combined years of experience providing direct services and driving public policy, and offer a range of perspectives — being both deeply embedded in their hyper-local constituent community and working across an entire city or region. They are leaders in fighting the barriers to economic well-being and share the Fund’s steadfast commitment to centering communities by prioritizing values of family, belonging, shared responsibility, and possibility. Perhaps most importantly, the skilled individuals employed by these organizations are honored, trusted, and beloved by the people they serve.

“This commitment to longer-term funding is really going to impact how organizations are able to move,” said Abigail Richards and Julia Arroyo, Co-Executive Directors of Young Women’s Freedom Center. “When we think about transforming structural change, years of harm won’t be resolved [in] one year, or two.”

“I’m grateful for this long-term, game-changing support. Systems change is difficult work,” said Zoe Polk, Executive Director of East Bay Community Law Center. “[This kind of initiative is] what leaders like myself have been calling for in the sector, pushing trustees, and the folks who provide the funding for nonprofits, to shift how they approach grantmaking.”

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