October 2016

Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States. Its sole purpose is to assist low-income and vulnerable individuals and families through nonprofit grants to direct-service providers. The foundation awards grants through seven areas of giving (in order of annual funding goals): Older Adults, Workforce Development, Education, General Community Support, Disabilities, Basic Human Needs & Health, and Veterans. Foundation Center asked Sheryl Goldstein, managing director of Programs & Grants and program director of Education (US):


 What are some of the systemic changes in the area of older adults that your grantees have worked for and are working towards, and how does collaboration fit into your strategies?

“The Weinberg Foundation supports organizations that help low-income and vulnerable older adults to age in their communities with independence and dignity. This is the foundation's single largest area of grantmaking. The foundation's primary objective in the field of aging is to support new service-delivery models that enable older adults to age in their communities.

"In 2009, the foundation funded an $8 million initiative, involving 14 nonprofits in nine states, with the goal of identifying and demonstrating best practices in supporting nonpaid, informal caregivers (family and friends) who provide roughly 80 percent of the nation's care to older and disabled adults. In 2013, the foundation collaborated with UJA-Federation of New York and Paraprofessional Health Institute (PHI) to create the Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative (HAWI), which established a best-practices model for recruiting, training, and supervising paid caregivers nationwide.

"Building upon the success of both of these initiatives, the foundation is now working with nonprofits and agencies in the greater Baltimore area to develop a "No Wrong Door" system of coordinated referrals to supports and services for older adults and caregivers. When a low-income person steps into an agency for one service, the agency will act as a hub that screens and refers the individual to all other available services necessary to allow them to remain independent. This approach to service delivery — known as Together We Care — includes supporting and scaling a dozen core services necessary to allow older adults and caregivers to remain independent.

"The foundation will evaluate this initiative with the goal of producing a model that can be expanded throughout Maryland, and — ideally — replicated elsewhere around the nation.

"In addition to responding to hundreds of nonprofit grant requests each year, the Weinberg Foundation engages in proactive grantmaking. These grant programs address some of the most critical challenges facing our communities by supporting best practices and promoting change through collaboration and collective impact.

"These initiatives include Together We Care, and the Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library project, which we started in 2011. That project now involves more than 40 community and government partners including the State of Maryland and Baltimore City Public Schools. The Weinberg Foundation has committed $10 million to design, build, equip, and staff up to 24 new libraries. The total investment, reflecting the contributions of all partners in all 24 schools once completed, will likely exceed $24 million. Ongoing evaluation of the project, which has already touched the lives of more than 6,000 students, reveals a nearly 400 percent increase in the number of books checked out at the first nine schools and significant increased literacy skill proficiency rates among students.

"Another example of our collaborative funding is the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative. This initiative supports high-quality summer learning programs that serve low-income Baltimore City youth by reducing summer learning loss. Last year, three funders invested $1.5 million. This year's program grew to include ten of Baltimore’s largest charitable funders with a total investment of $3 million.

"Programs funded served more than 7,000 students, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, and focused on literacy; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); youth employment; college and career readiness; environmental education; health and overcoming stress and trauma; and enrichment such as sports and the arts.

"In both initiatives, the Weinberg Foundation's investment and impact are multiplied thanks to collaboration with other funders."