William Penn Foundation receives $747 million

PHILADELPHIA (December 30, 2009) – Feather Houstoun, president of the William Penn Foundation, announced today that John C. Haas, the senior member of the Haas family, has directed $747 million to the Foundation, with instructions that it be used in perpetuity for the advancement of the Greater Philadelphia region.
 
“We are thrilled to be entrusted with this gift and humbled by Mr. Haas’ extraordinary philanthropic spirit,” said Houstoun. “He has ensured that the Foundation will continue making grants to improve the quality of life in our region, as it has for nearly 65 years.”
 
The 91-year-old Haas, who chaired the Foundation’s board for more than 30 years, expressed his desire for the gift to reaffirm the Foundation’s role as an ongoing, vital Philadelphia institution.
 
“My parents established this foundation in response to social problems following World War II,” said Haas. “The entire Haas family is incredibly proud of the effort they set in motion, and of the value, strength, and importance the foundation has come to represent in the region.”
 
The gift will bring the Foundation’s market-based holdings to approximately $1.9 billion. (At their highest point in 2007, the Foundation’s assets were $1.5 billion.)
 
In 2008, the Foundation paid approximately $63 million on grants, guided by a strategic plan dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen children’s futures, and deepen connections to nature and community.
 
Increases to the Foundation’s grant budget will be phased in while the board of directors undertakes a process of determining how best to deploy the increased resources to advance Mr. Haas’ wishes and the Foundation’s long-held vision for regional advancement.
 
“The Foundation has been presented with an opportunity to enhance our efforts to improve the quality of the life in Greater Philadelphia,” said Houstoun. “Our board is resolved to thoroughly consider the ways in which an extraordinary gift of this magnitude can be used with purpose and confidence in its impact on the region.”
 
Mr. Haas’ parents, Otto and Phoebe Haas, established the William Penn Foundation in 1945 with shares of the Rohm & Haas Company. In subsequent decades, the Foundation diversified its holdings, eventually selling all of its company stock by the late 1990s. It has evolved into the largest grantmaker focused exclusively on the Greater Philadelphia region, with three established grantmaking programs: Arts & Culture; Children, Youth, & Families; and Environment & Communities.
 
The Foundation is governed by a combination of Haas family members and community members with expertise in the Foundation’s principal grantmaking areas. David Haas, son of John C. Haas has chaired the board since 1998.  Feather Houstoun has been president since 2005. The gift from John C. Haas follows a re-organization of the Haas Trusts reflecting the evolution of the family and its charitable interests.
 
The Foundation typically has from 300 – 500 active grants with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations serving Greater Philadelphia (479 active grants at the time of this release). Among the groups receiving significant amounts of support from the Foundation in recent years: Center City District, Committee of Seventy, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Dance USA/Philadelphia, Education Law Center, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Morris Arboretum, Natural Lands Trust, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Penn Praxis, Pennsylvania Ballet, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia Education Fund, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia Youth Network, Pre-K Counts, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the Reinvestment Fund, Schuylkill River Development Council, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the Wilma Theater.

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