Who We Are

Photo Credit: Harris Theater for Music and Dance



The Irving Harris Foundation enhances the quality of life for children, families and communities by advancing human potential, social justice and equity, and creative experience and expression.


The values of the Foundation, inspired by our founder and his work, are infused in everything we do, from grantmaking to coalition building to field leadership. We believe these values are critical to achieving progress toward our goals in a way that recognizes the contributions and value of all stakeholders and affirms our founder’s legacy.

IHF Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement
and Vision

This statement reflects the Foundation’s historical work toward greater Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as our aspirations for our growth and a better future. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with partners to create a more just and equitable society and world for all.

From his earliest days of giving, Irving Harris was driven by a deeply held belief that everyone should have an equal opportunity to succeed and thrive. His grantmaking and field leadership were grounded in a sense of social justice, focused on closing the gaps between those who have more and those who have less. He inspired everyone around him to think big and act decisively when opportunities arose.

The work of the Irving Harris Foundation (IHF) is driven by a long-term commitment to the principles and approach of our founder. In that spirit, IHF has embraced and worked to advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in our work. For IHF, DEI is not a goal to be accomplished, but a reflective, intentional journey in which we are consistently striving toward more equitable policies, systems and communities. It demands that we recognize the legacy and impact of structural racism and the historic and contemporary oppression that has plagued our society and communities for centuries. It requires us to consider and account for the diverse experiences and statuses of people based on their race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, physical ability, religion and citizenship and socioeconomic status. It insists that we engage those most impacted community voices in priority- setting and decision-making processes. And it commands us to examine and shift the distribution of power and resources within systems and institutions in order to promote justice and fairness.

IHF has embedded elements of DEI in our approach to grantmaking and field leadership, in our relationships with partners and grantees, and in the way we build our team and culture. Over time we have examined our grant and field leadership portfolios with an increasing emphasis on equity, but much remains to be done. We have engaged and supported grantees in their own internal DEI efforts, including investing in leaders and approaches that advance DEI, and reallocated resources to invest more in organizations that reflect and serve communities, families and individuals most affected by inequity. We have prioritized investing in grants that specifically address disparities in early childhood and reproductive health systems, as well as across our broader spectrum of grantmaking. And we have thoughtfully approached the hiring and retainment of more diverse staff as our team has grown. However, the journey continues as we seek to more deeply integrate equity into who we are and what we do.