Our Next Chapter

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Our Next Chapter

After nearly 80 years of collaborating with others to create a more just world for every baby, family, and community, the Irving Harris Foundation has decided to sunset in 2032.

As we begin this chapter, we are leaning into the values set by our founder, Irving Harris, of justice, partnership, and equity.

Our decision to sunset builds on the Foundation’s commitment to more deeply center intersectional racial equity – and our aspiration to further shift and share power. Spending down all of our assets over a shorter period of time will put these resources more quickly where we feel they belong: in the hands of the communities we work to support.

As we move into sunsetting, we intend to listen deeply to grantee and community voices, communicate openly and honestly, and co-create meaningful new possibilities with our collective resources and creativity.

We are excited to learn together and to cultivate new possibilities that Irving would have loved.


When will the Foundation sunset?

The Foundation will spend down all our remaining financial assets over the next nine years and sunset in 2032.

How will the Foundation sunset?

We don’t have all the answers just yet about what this transition will look like. However, out of the deep respect we hold for our partners, we wanted to begin sharing the news at the earliest opportunity. Over the next several years we’ll be creating space for members of our community to process, reflect, surface key questions, and imagine what this next chapter could look like.

What led to the decision—why now?

The Foundation has always been committed to working collaboratively with others to address the root causes of injustice—and in recent years we’ve become even more intentional about centering intersectional racial equity across our work.

We see sunsetting as a natural next step that allows the Foundation to lean even deeper into our values. By spending down we can provide more meaningful support for communities here and now—and shift even more power and resources back to those most impacted by oppressive systems.

Did Irving ever share his thoughts on sunsetting?

Yes, Irving recognized that the Foundation might not go on forever. He affirmed his belief in “giving good gifts now,” and that’s exactly what our sunsetting will do.

Mindful of Irving’s beliefs, the Foundation has for many years given more from our endowment than the 5% annual payout required by the IRS, knowing this will reduce the endowment at a faster pace. So in essence, we have already been passively sunsetting for some time. This news simply means we’ll now begin to sunset more actively and intentionally.

How will you work with your grantee partners during this time?

First and foremost, we intend to be present and available for our grantee partners in ways that are useful and meaningful to them. We won’t be able to answer every question just yet, but we will work to get the answers as soon as we can.

Second, this news doesn’t change our commitment to building real, trust-based relationships with our partners. We will continue to engage closely with them and seek their wisdom, especially as we start to think about what our sunsetting could mean for the future of our shared priorities.

We acknowledge that this transition places us, as Foundation staff, in a position of privilege as people who hold decision making power over the Foundation’s resources and who have access to policymakers, donors and tables our grant partners do not have. We will hold ourselves accountable to sharing power and using our privilege in service of our grantees and the communities we seek to serve.

Will organizations still be funded? How much longer can they expect to receive funding?

While our grantmaking resources will eventually be spent down, the specifics have yet to be determined. Understandably, that news may create some concern or anxiety for many of our grantee partners.

We are deeply mindful of our partners’ sustainability. We will work with them to intentionally scale down funding over time to avoid the impact of a sudden loss. As we move into sunsetting, we will also be engaging our grantees to learn more about how we can be most helpful to them in thriving through this change.

Are you planning to help grantees identify other potential funding sources and/or build new relationships?

We expect to continue to seed connections that help our partners build the networks and relationships needed to move their work forward. This is something the Foundation has always done, and it’s a way we feel we can be of service.

What is your plan as you step down your giving? Will it be to more BIPOC-led organizations?

We don’t have a plan yet, but we intend to stay the course we embarked on several years ago to allocate more of our funding to BIPOC-led organizations.

Will the Foundation’s grantmaking process change as a result of this decision?

While we don’t expect significant changes right now, we may adapt our processes as needed to best serve our grantees, just as we’ve always done.

Are there certain activities you will no longer be funding, or types of grants you’ll no longer be making? Are there new activities or types of grants you’re planning to start funding?

Broadly, we know that we will continue to work within our focus areas: Reproductive Health & Justice, Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health, Early Childhood, Jewish Values, and Arts & Culture. Going deeper requires being more intentional, so some areas may sunset before others. Our teams will continue to work with our grantees and partners to refine the strategies. It’s still very early in this journey, and we still have a lot of listening and learning to do.

What will happen to the Foundation’s Arts & Culture grantmaking?

The Foundation has long supported artistic and cultural expression as a building block of healthy, strong, and vibrant communities. Historically, all grant decisions for Arts & Culture have been made at the discretion of Joan W. Harris, and we expect that process will continue. No further timeline has been established. We will keep our artistic and cultural grantee partners informed as we know more.

What will happen to the Foundation’s initiatives?

We don’t know yet. We still have a lot of listening, learning, and reflecting to do as we consider which Foundation initiatives (or which components of them) will continue. The path forward could look different for each initiative.

How does sunsetting impact existing work such as field leadership and tables where the Foundation is present?

This work will continue. Not only is it very meaningful, but it may now be more important than ever, as the insights and learnings will likely inform our plans. We also hope to use our voice differently in service of the field—by being bold, acting courageously, and communicating directly in service of racial and gender justice, disrupting power dynamics and philanthropy, and ultimately the greater good.

What’s happening now?

Right now we are reaching out to grantees and partners to ensure everyone has a chance to hear the news directly from us. We are creating space for people to process, listen, reflect, and begin to consider the possibilities. We intend to continue working with our partners in the same ways as ever and remain committed to communicating openly and honestly in the years ahead.