Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund

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Evelyn and Walter Hass, Jr. Fund
Legal status501(c)(3) private foundation[1]
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, United States[1]
Cathy Cha [1]
Walter D. Haas[1]

Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund is a private foundation established in 1953 by Evelyn D. Haas and Walter A. Haas Jr. Based in San Francisco, the Fund is committed to advancing rights and creating opportunities so that all people can live, work, and raise their families with dignity. Guided by its founders’ values, the Fund works with funders, nonprofit organizations and movement partners on issues including: immigrant and gay and lesbian rights; education equity; nonprofit leadership; and Bay Area partnerships and initiatives.

The Haas, Jr. Fund is known for its leadership in the campaign for marriage equality in the United States, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s historic 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The Fund also is recognized for pioneering work on the issue of immigrant rights—for example, by funding the first scholarships for undocumented Dreamer students at U.C. Berkeley. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Fund has played a key role in many high-profile community initiatives, including the transformation of Crissy Field from an abandoned military airbase into a beloved National Park that attracts 1 million visitors every year.


Walter A. Haas, Jr., was the great-grand-nephew of Levi Strauss, the Bavarian immigrant who established the purpose-driven Levi Strauss & Co. Strauss was a noted donor to many charitable causes, including organizations serving children and underserved communities. Among his philanthropic legacies are 28 endowed scholarships at U.C. Berkeley that he created in 1897, with half of the original scholarships going to women.

While serving as president and CEO (1958-1976) and chairman (1970-1981)[3] of Levi Strauss & Co., Walter carried on the family tradition of compassionate and community-minded business leadership. Together with his brother, Peter E. Haas, he oversaw the racial integration of the company’s plants in the South long before it was required under federal law. Walter also led the creation of Community Involvement Teams that provide Levi Strauss & Co. employees with paid time off to partner with local charitable organizations on critical projects.

When Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. created their family foundation in 1953, they were inspired by a vision of a more equitable society. It is a vision that continues to guide the Fund as it works with partners to tackle some of society’s most pressing and complex issues.

Walter A. Haas, Jr. passed away in 1995; Evelyn passed away in 2010. Today, the Haas, Jr. Fund is led by their three children (Walter J. Haas, Betsy Haas Eisenhardt, and Robert D. Haas) and three of their grandchildren (Elise Haas, Jesse Eisenhardt, and Walter A. Haas III).

Major Programs and Initiatives[edit]

The Haas, Jr. Fund’s program priorities include: Immigrant Rights; Gay and Lesbian Rights; Education Equity; the Haas Leadership Initiatives; and Community Partnerships and Initiatives.

Immigrant Rights. The Haas, Jr. family’s longtime focus on the needs of immigrant communities is inspired by Walter’s experience overseeing the operations of the Levi Strauss & Co. plant in San Francisco’s Mission District, which employed large numbers of Latino workers. In the early 2000s, the Haas, Jr. Fund was an early champion in philanthropy for strengthening public understanding of the need for comprehensive immigration reform in California and nationally. The Fund also was an early, high-profile supporter of the Dreamer movement, which is working to advance rights and opportunities for undocumented young people across the country. In 2012, the Fund made a $1 million gift to U.C. Berkeley[4] to support one of the largest scholarship programs in the nation for Dreamer students. Through the California Campus Catalyst Fund[5], the Haas, Jr. Fund is supporting public colleges and universities across the state to provide expanded services to help undocumented students succeed. Today, the Fund and its partners in the immigrant rights movements continue the work of bringing opportunity, power and voice to immigrant communities in California and across the country.

Gay and Lesbian Rights. In the early 2000s, the Fund was the first foundation in the country to embrace marriage equality as a major priority. Working hand in hand with LGBT movement leaders and other funders, the Haas, Jr. Fund supported a state-by-state strategy that included public education, litigation, research and other activities aimed at winning marriage equality from coast to coast. In June 2015, the Fund and other supporters of gay and lesbian rights celebrated the Supreme Court ruling,[6] Obergefell v. Hodges, making marriage equality the law of the land. The Fund also was a major supporter of efforts to end the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which outlawed gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the military. Today, the Fund is working with partners to defend marriage equality and secure equal rights protections in employment, housing and other areas for LGBT people across the United States.

Education Equity. Inspired by the belief that all children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential, the Haas, Jr. Fund works with the San Francisco Unified School District and other local partners to close achievement gaps for students of color. The Fund helped establish the San Francisco Beacon Initiative, which transforms public schools into safe, vibrant centers for afterschool learning and family support. The Fund also is a longtime partner and supporter of U.C. Berkeley’s efforts to make equity and inclusion a priority in every corner of the Berkeley campus. The Fund has a longstanding partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District to help improve student achievement and ensure that all students are ready for college, career and civic life in the 21st century.

Haas Leadership Initiatives. The Haas, Jr. Fund has been an innovator in philanthropy’s efforts to support nonprofit leaders so they can more effectively advance the goals of their organizations and movements. In 2005, the Fund launched the Flexible Leadership Awards to provide Haas, Jr. Fund grantees with tailored support to strengthen the leadership of their organizations. The program has grown to support a wide range of local, statewide and national organizations whose work is essential to achieving the Fund’s program goals on issues from immigrant and gay and lesbian rights to education equity. The Haas, Jr. Fund also helped establish two signature fellowships, the 21st Century Fellows Program and the Fellowship for a New California, that address critical leadership gaps in the LGBT and immigrant rights movements, respectively. In 2017, the Fund launched a new initiative, Resetting Fundraising, to support the ability of social change nonprofits to overcome the sector’s chronic fundraising challenges.

Community Partnerships and Initiatives. The work of the Haas, Jr. Fund reflects the Haas family’s love for the San Francisco Bay Area. The Fund’s guiding values motivate its support for a range of local partners that are working to make the Bay Area a stronger, better community for everyone. The Fund has been a lead partner in the transformation of Crissy Field and the Presidio into world-class National Parks. It also is a co-founder and partner with the San Francisco Chronicle in the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, an annual campaign that has distributed more than $120 million to Bay Area families in need.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Return of Private Foundation". Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr Fund. Guidestar/ December 31, 2014.
  2. ^ "Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Walter A. Haas, Jr" (PDF). digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  4. ^ Center, Foundation. "Haas Fund Awards $1 Million to UC Berkeley for Scholarships for Undocumented Students". Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  5. ^ Evelyn; Haas, Walter; Street, Jr Fund 114 Sansome; Francisco, Suite 600 San; Fax856-1500, California 94104 Telephone856-1400 (2018-04-09). "California Campus Catalyst Fund". Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  6. ^ "S.F. foundation supported gay marriage long before it was cool - SFChronicle.com". www.sfchronicle.com. 2015-06-29. Retrieved 2019-01-11.

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