$553 million in grants,
63 years of change­making

Explore our digital timeline to learn more about the Fund’s work and to find out about the heroic accomplishments of the leaders and organizations we have the privilege of supporting.

2017

January

2017

A new leadership team

Jennie Watson and Cathy Cha at Crissy Field Photo by Tue Nam Ton ©

The Fund’s Directors announce that Jennie Lehua Watson, formerly vice president of special initiatives and communications, will serve as interim president of the Fund for two years. Cathy Cha, formerly program director for immigrant rights, is named vice president of programs and will become president of the Fund in January 2019. With a combined 30 years as key leaders with the Fund, Watson and Cha have played integral roles in its work to advance rights and create opportunities for all people.

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2016

December 31

2016

Ira Hirschfield steps down as President

Photo by Charlotte Fiorito ©

After 28 years leading the Fund, President and Director Ira S. Hirschfield steps down at the end of 2016. From the transformation of Crissy Field to the national campaign for marriage equality, Hirschfield played a key leadership role in major initiatives reflecting the Fund’s commitment to advancing rights and creating opportunities for all people.  

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2016

30 years of sharing

30 Years Season of Sharing

The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund kicks off its 30th anniversary fundraising campaign. Created in 1986 by the San Francisco Chronicle with leadership from Haas, Jr. Fund co-founder Walter Haas, Jr. and former President Ira Hirschfield, Season of Sharing has raised more than $113 million to help Bay Area individuals and families in need.  

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June 24

2016

Despite immigration setback, California keeps moving forward

Photo by National AAPI DACA Collaborative Coordinator

The U.S. Supreme Court blocks the Obama administration’s plan to extend deportation relief to more immigrants beyond those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Despite the defeat, California continues to offer a model for pro-immigrant reforms.  

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April 13

2016

Strengthening democracy in California

Photo by Tim Wagner

The Haas, Jr. Fund joins with other funders to share lessons from an innovative partnership aimed at boosting civic engagement among immigrants and other underrepresented populations in California. 

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2015

November 30

2015

Building an inclusive university

U.C. Berkeley

Longtime Haas, Jr. Fund partner U.C. Berkeley is a leader in higher education when it comes to creating an accessible and welcoming environment for diverse students. A wide-ranging report shares lessons from the Cal experience.   

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November 2

2015

Lessons from the marriage win

The Haas, Jr. Fund and other funders that supported the state-by-state strategy to win marriage equality share the untold, behind-the-scenes story of what happened. A case study and video from the participants in the Civil Marriage Collaborative offer lessons for other social justice causes.  

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June 26

2015

Love wins, once and for all

Photo by Charlotte Fiorito ©

The Supreme Court legalizes marriage equality—the result of hard work by movement organizations and millions of people who changed hearts and minds. The Fund has invested $39 million in this historic work since 2001.

June

2015

Building a bridge between PreK and elementary school education

School books Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux Photography ©

The Power of a Good Idea follows the dramatic transformation of the San Francisco Unified School District in its bid to close achievement gaps by connecting PreK and elementary school education.

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2015

A new focus on fundraising challenges—and solutions

Abstract crowd Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg

The Fund launches research into key fundraising challenges facing nonprofits. Over the next year it publishes two new reports, Beyond Fundraising and Fundraising Bright Spots, as well as a series of blog posts focused on “learning out loud” about fundraising challenges and solutions in the sector.

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2014

November

2014

One giant leap for immigrant rights

President Barack Obama

President Obama grants “administrative relief” to 5 million undocumented Americans, providing them an opportunity to obtain work permits and temporary relief from deportation. (In February 2015, a federal judge temporarily halts Obama’s executive action.)

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September 8

2014

Lighting the way for kids and families

The San Francisco Beacon Initiative marks its 20th anniversary as a groundbreaking, citywide effort to create safe, vibrant afterschool places for kids and families. Former Haas, Jr. Fund Vice President of Programs Sylvia Yee and other “Beacon Pioneers” describe the initiative’s impact in a short video.  

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2013

June

2013

A huge step forward for marriage equality

Photo by ACLU ©

As a result of efforts by Fund grantees including (add links) Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, The LGBT Project of the ACLU, the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, opening the door for gay married couples to secure equal rights under federal law.

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2013

State policy victories in Sacramento

Woman at California Immigration Day Photo by Theo Rigby ©

California adopts the TRUST Act, limiting the ability of police to detain immigrants who pose no threat. New state laws also allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses; domestic workers to obtain overtime pay; and qualified undocumented immigrants to become licensed lawyers.

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January

2013

Fundraising prompts a new conversation

Underdeveloped Report Cover, Nonprofit Leadership

The Fund and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services publish a groundbreaking report, UnderDeveloped, that spurs sector-wide talk about how to create a “culture of philanthropy” in nonprofit organizations.

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2012

2012

Toward a fair and inclusive society

john powell Photo by Peg Skorpinski ©

The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society celebrates its opening on the UC Berkeley campus. Led by john powell, with ongoing support from the Fund, the Institute brings together researchers, organizers, stakeholders, communicators and policymakers to “identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society.”

2011

2010

February 3

2010

‘There will never be another’

Evelyn D. Haas passes away on Feb. 3rd. Her friend, F. Warren Hellman, says, “There will never be another Evie Haas. She possessed such diverse talents that gave her the courage to accomplish new and sometimes daunting challenges with grace and dignity. San Francisco has lost one of its finest citizens.”

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2010

Read all about it

Front page of Seattle Gay News Photo by Trine ©

The Fund organizes the first national convening of LGBT newspaper editors and bloggers in New York.

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2010

The power of coaching

Lina Sheth discusses how coaching

As a leading philanthropic supporter of executive coaching, the Fund creates a series of short videos that provide firsthand accounts about the impact of coaching in the nonprofit sector.

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2010
Walter J. Haas at Presidio Rob Hill Campground with students
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One of the many passions that my parents shared was creating opportunities for people to enjoy great public spaces and to connect with nature... Rob Hill Campground is a tribute to the idea that every single one of us should have the opportunity to camp under the stars, enjoy a s'more cooked over the campfire, and wake up in the woods to the sounds of nature.

Walter J. Haas, chair of the Haas, Jr. Fund at the opening ceremony for Rob Hill Campground
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2009

September

2009

America’s Best Idea

Photo of national park from the Tuan Collection

The Fund supports Ken Burns’ film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, which airs on PBS to large audiences and rave reviews. The Fund also makes the largest grant in PBS history for outreach aimed at communities underrepresented in national parks.

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2008

2007

August

2007

Gifts to a city

Haas

The San Francisco Chronicle interviews the Haas family about their approach to philanthropy and their commitment to transforming lives in the Bay Area.

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2007

Promoting Full Equality, State by State

Family in front of home

The Haas, Jr. Fund helps create the State Equality Fund, which supports non-lobbying educational work to promote full equality for gays and lesbians, including safer schools, nondiscrimination protections and civil unions.

2005

2005

Aligning resources for reform

Oakland May Day Rally Photo by Kathy Sloane ©

The Fund joins NEO Philanthropy’s Four Freedoms Fund, a national collaborative of funders working to integrate immigrants into our democracy.

2005

Building strength on the field as well as in the classroom

Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance Photo by OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA ©

The Fund makes a $15 million challenge grant to help construct UC Berkeley’s Student Athlete High Performance Center, a state-of-the art facility that houses both sports training equipment and academic resources for student athletes.

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2004

November

2004

Losing forward

Photo by Chris Walton

Anti-marriage measures pass in 11 states by huge margins. Funders and movement leaders begin collaborating to plot a course for changing hearts and minds and for winning marriage equality in a critical number of states.

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2004

Introducing The Flexible Leadership Awards

Man presents at a Flexible Leadership Awards Convening

The Fund introduces the Flexible Leadership Awards to help nonprofits and their leaders become even more effective. The program, which launches the following year, provides long-term leadership support to selected Fund grantees.

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February

2004

The marriage issue heats up

Photo by LIZ MANGELSDORF

Following Massachusetts’ decision to allow same-sex marriages in that state, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom opens up City Hall for same-sex couples to marry. The television images go global and stir a national conversation about marriage.

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2004

Promoting the need for immigration reform

"The Time is Now" sigh at San Francisco May Day Photo by Theo Rigby ©

The Fund invests in direct services for immigrants, litigation, organizing and advocacy at the state and national levels.

2003

2002

2002

Let California Ring

Women prepare for wedding

The Fund makes its first grant to support marriage equality in its home state of California. The grant supports Let California Ring, the largest-ever public education effort on the issue.

2001

2001

Stepping beyond our backyard

Photo by See-ming Lee

The Fund moves beyond local issues and supports state and national causes that reflect Bay Area concerns. The first step: establishing Freedom to Marry to catalyze the national marriage equality movement.

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March

2001

Crissy Field opens

Opening of Crissy field

With years of planning and community support, Crissy Field officially opens with a spectacular celebration in San Francisco. The stunning national park attracts more than a million visitors a year.

1999

1999

Keeping Score with the Symphony

Children at Davies Hall

The Fund helps the San Francisco Symphony expand its national profile and make classical music accessible to more people, including kids. The centerpiece of the effort is Keeping Score, a multimedia project built around a nationally televised PBS series.

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1998

1997

1997

More art for more people

Photo by SFMOMA ©

The San Francisco Museum of Art establishes the Evelyn D. Haas Exhibition Fund, which supports the museum to present major exhibitions with broad public appeal.

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1997

A thriving park for all

View of Golden Gay Bridge from Crissy Field

The Fund grants $18 million for the restoration of Crissy Field ($13.5 million from the Fund and $4.5 from Colleen and Robert Haas). At the time, this is the largest cash gift in the history of the National Park Service.

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1996

September

1996

The government enacts DOMA

Photo by Ron Sachs/CNP

President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which restricts federal marriage benefits to opposite-sex couples, denying gay couples thousands of rights and protections that come with marriage.

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1995

September 20

1995

Losing our visionary co-founder

Walter A. Haas, Jr., passes away on Sept. 20th. Fund President Ira Hirschfield remarks in his eulogy, “This is a man who never forgot, not even for a day, how blessed he was, and how difficult life is for so many.”

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1994

1994

Haas Pavilion

Haas Pavilion Buildings Photo by Peg Skorpinski ©

The Fund makes a lead gift of $11 million to help rebuild UC Berkeley’s sports facility for student athletes. The Walter A. Haas, Jr. Pavilion affirms the university’s commitment to both academic and athletic excellence.

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1993

1993

A new emphasis on children, youth and families

Mother and child

The Fund adopts Children, Youth and Families as a program priority. The focus: supporting efforts to help young people and their families in California to escape poverty and succeed. Fund grants go to afterschool programming, youth development and family support.

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1990

1990

A commitment to children, youth and families

Older women

The Fund adopts four priorities for grantmaking: Children, Youth, Families and the Elderly; Strengthening Neighborhoods; Reducing Hunger and Homelessness; and Encouraging Volunteer Service and Philanthropy.

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1989

1989

Building a world of public art

SFMOMA in 2010 Photo by Meg Chang

The Fund pledges $6 million for the construction of the internationally acclaimed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art building.

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1986

1986

Envisioning a park for all people

Crissy Field before and after Photo by THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

The Fund makes a grant to support planning for the restoration of Crissy Field, a former military base in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, and its transformation into a 100-acre urban national park.

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1972

1972

Grantmaking grows with experience

Walter A. Haas, Jr.and Boys Club (flag) with Frank Jordan

The Fund expands its grantmaking to support the elderly, youth, immigrants, equal opportunity, corporate social responsibility, and community initiatives such as hospitals.

 

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1960

1960

“It’s in the genes.”

Walter A. Haas, Jr.

The great grand-nephew of Levi Strauss, Walter A. Haas, Jr., helms Levi’s and continues the family tradition of moral leadership, integrating Levi’s sewing factories in the segregated South. Asked about his family’s penchant for giving, he says, “It’s in the genes.”

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1953