Our mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts.

Matt Conti

There is so much potential all around us. We aim to serve as both stewards and catalysts of that potential. As stewards, we nurture and enhance vital community assets. As catalysts, we cultivate and advance the breakthrough ideas that will shape our collective future.

In all that we do, we focus on achieving impact as a constructive partner, willing to exercise leadership.

Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts and creative expression, to advance solutions for climate change, and to connect all students to success in high school and beyond. Founded in 1997, Barr now has assets of $1.7 billion, and has contributed more than $838 million to charitable causes.

Our Core Values

We are guided by core values defined by our founders. These values express our beliefs about what constitutes effective philanthropy and describe how we carry out our philanthropic mission.

  1. Strive for excellence

    We aim for the highest standards of performance, integrity, and service in all dimensions of our work.

  2. Invest in leaders

    We support effective, visionary, and collaborative leaders, as they motivate others, drive change, and produce results.

  3. Act with humility and modesty

    We approach our activities with respect for our partners, an understanding that solutions reside with those we serve, and recognition of the privilege inherent in philanthropic work.

  4. Adopt a long-term perspective

    We take the long view, considering the implications of today’s decisions for future generations.

  5. Embrace risk

    We pursue ambitious goals, which requires a comfort with the risk of failure.

  6. Demonstrate curiosity

    We actively solicit new perspectives to inform our work and are committed to collaboration and partnership.

Our Approach

Each of our programs is guided by distinct priorities and goals. Yet, in all aspects of our work at Barr, we embrace a common set of approaches, namely:

  1. Flexibility and nimbleness

    We foster a flexible and nimble culture that permits us to respond to the evolving circumstances in our environment, that encourages attentiveness to the needs of our partners, and that avoids rigidity and bureaucracy.

  2. A broad range of tools

    We deploy a broad range of tools and assets to advance our programmatic priorities, including capacity-building, communications, and a willingness to exercise leadership.

  3. Knowledge and learning

    We share knowledge and learning in ways that contribute to deeper understanding of our work, that document both successes and failures, and that promote continuous improvement.

  4. Openness and transparency

    We aim to be open and transparent about our work and to contribute to broader efforts that promote and advance the field of philanthropy.

  5. Active collaboration

    We aim to be constructive partners to colleagues from all sectors, recognizing that the challenges we confront require the active engagement of multiple actors.

Our Trustees

The Barr Foundation is governed by a board of trustees who provide strategic direction and fiscal oversight for the Foundation’s affairs in service of its mission.

In September 2017, the board expanded from three to five members, and it is anticipated that, over time, the board will include others to share in the governance of the Foundation.

Barbara W. Hostetter

Co-founder and Chair of the Board
Barbara’s Bio

Amos B. Hostetter, Jr.

Amos' Bio

M. Lee Pelton

President, Emerson College
Lee's Bio

Susan F. Tierney

Senior Advisor, Analysis Group
Sue's Bio

James E. Canales

Jim's Bio

Our Team

Racial and Ethnic Diversity of Barr Staff

Racial and Ethnic Diversity

29 Staff Members

We value diversity and inclusion in our workplace. Learn more about who we are by exploring this chart.

Asian or Asian American (4)

Staff members who identify as Asian or Asian American.

Black or African American (4)

Staff members who identify as Black or African American.

Hispanic, Latinx (3)

Staff members who identify as Hispanic or Latinx.

Multiracial or multiethnic (2)

Staff members who identify as Multiracial or Multiethnic.

White (16)

Staff members who identify as White.

Financial Information

Tax Returns

The Barr Foundation is an endowed, private foundation. We post our tax return, the Form 990-PF, each year when filed with the IRS. The 990s from the last five years are available below for download.

2016 990-PF 2015 990-PF 2014 990-PF 2013 990-PF 2012 990-PF

Barr’s tax return, the IRS Form 990-PF, reports the president’s compensation, as well as that of the top-five compensated employees. Since we know that compensation information is often an area of interest, the relevant page from the most recent Form 990 can be accessed directly here.

President’s Compensation

Compensation for the president is determined by the Board of Trustees, excluding the president. In making such determinations, the board relies upon salary and benefits information from third-party sources, as well as its annual review of the president’s job performance. In setting compensation for all other staff, the Foundation’s management relies upon these same salary surveys and on annual performance reviews.

For 2016, as president, Jim Canales earned $610,787 in salary, $80,101 in matching contributions to his 401(k) retirement account and other deferred compensation, and $19,206 in contributions to medical and other benefits.

Audited Financial Statements

Each year, Barr retains independent auditors to audit our annual financial statements. Reports from the three most recent years are available below for download.

2016 Audited Financial Statements
In 2016, we awarded $71.9 million in grants, while incurring $11.0 million in management and general expenses.

2015 Audited Financial Statements
In 2015, our assets totaled $1.61 billion, which represented a 1% decrease from the previous year. We awarded $55.1 million in grants, while incurring $8.1 million in management and general expenses.

2014 Audited Financial Statements
In 2014, we awarded $48.9 million in grants, while incurring $8.1 million in management and general expenses.

glasspockets logo

Barr is pleased to participate in Foundation Center’s Glasspockets initiative, which champions philanthropic transparency online and tracks more than 20 transparency and accountability indicators.

See our Glasspockets profile

Our Policies

We make our governance and human resource policies publicly available, including how staff should report conflicts of interest and unethical/illegal conduct.


Matt Conti

The Pilot House

Situated on the Boston Harbor, the Barr Foundation’s office is housed within the historic Pilot House, built in 1845 as part of the flourishing shipping trade along Boston’s waterfront. In April 2016, Barr’s offices expanded into the adjacent building at Two Atlantic Avenue.

The Pilot House initially served as lodging for ship captains (“pilots”) and passengers, and has been used over time for a range of industrial and commercial purposes.

Notable for its brick-and-beam construction and arched windows, The Pilot House gave inspiration to Barr’s logo, which suggests light reflecting from those windows onto the waters of the Boston Harbor.

As part of our commitment to the arts, Barr’s offices showcase a curated collection loaned to the Foundation and featuring living, contemporary artists. Learn about our office artwork.

Please note that visitors should enter via the lobby of Two Atlantic Avenue.

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