Following a long family tradition of involvement with the University of California, Berkeley, the Haas, Jr. Fund has supported several major efforts to help Cal enhance its commitment to academic and athletic excellence.
In February 2010, the Haas, Jr. Fund announced a major grant to launch the U.C. Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. The initiative is a sweeping effort to expand research and teaching on diversity issues, fund new scholarships for students from low-income families, and make equity and inclusion a priority in every corner of the Cal campus. To date, the Haas, Jr. Fund has invested $19.4 million in these efforts. Cal’s total investment in the initiative will grow to $31 million because of challenge grants included in the Fund’s gift, plus matching support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Also, through the generosity of the Levi Strauss Foundation, the university has established the Robert D. Haas Chancellor's Chair in Equity and Inclusion. It honors Robert D. Haas, a trustee of the Haas, Jr. Fund and a U.C. Berkeley alumnus, who recently stepped down as chief executive officer and chairman of San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co., where he built on the company's tradition of progressive workplace practices.
In 1994, the Fund made the lead gift to help rebuild Cal’s sports facility for student athletes, the Walter A. Haas, Jr. Pavilion. The home of the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams, the Haas Pavilion seats more than 12,000 fans and hosts numerous sports, recreational and speaking events. Reflecting the late Walter A. Haas, Jr.’s love for sports and his alma mater, the Fund pledged a gift of $11 million in 1994 for the $57 million athletic and activities center.
To ensure student athletes build strength on the field as well as in the classroom, the Haas, Jr. Fund stepped up to make a $15 million challenge grant pledge in 2005 to help construct Cal’s Student Athlete High Performance Center. This state-of-the art facility houses both sports training equipment and academic resources for students who play football as well as other men’s and women’s sports.
Other recent Haas, Jr. Fund grants to Cal include $500,000 to the university’s Bancroft Library, a vital custodian of California’s historical and cultural heritage, for its building renovation and improvements to create greater access for students, scholars and the public; and $350,000 to the Haas School of Business to research the effectiveness of socially responsible corporate business practices and for general support.