Working in partnership with nonprofit and civic leaders across the region.

The Barr Foundation focuses on three areas: Arts & Creativity, Climate, and Education. This is complemented by grantmaking to strengthen New England’s social sector, and by targeted, time-limited Special Initiatives. Founded in 1997, Barr has contributed more than $911 million to charitable causes. The Foundation’s grantmaking budget for 2019 is $90 million.

What We Fund

Barr focuses its grantmaking on strategies described in each of our funding areas below. We primarily make grants to 501(c)(3) public charities and public schools. We also make grants to support organizations or projects that work with qualifying fiscal sponsors, and to governmental agencies for public purposes.

What We Don't Fund

Barr does not make grants to individuals or for scholarships, nor do we make program-related investments. It is also rare for Barr to fund capital projects or event sponsorships (except on occasion for longstanding partners).

Our Grantmaking Process

There are many pathways to receiving a grant from the Barr Foundation. The majority of our grants are either renewal grants or grants to organizations with which we have had a prior relationship. However, in a typical year, between 15% and 30% of the grants we make are to organizations that have not previously received a grant from the Foundation. Below we describe the different paths to a grant from Barr.

Building on Existing Partnerships

As an expression of one of our core values—to adopt a long-term perspective—we realize that deep and lasting partnerships are essential. Accordingly, Barr places great value in long-term collaboration with those who share our aspirations and have demonstrated impact. Many of our grants provide support over multiple years, and we do not set term limits for our grantees. When one grant comes to an end, we sometimes follow it with additional support—either to steward continuing work or to help catalyze new efforts. And when we may have concluded a grant with an organization, we often remain in contact should there be opportunities for partnership once again, which often occurs.

Proposals Invited by Staff

Another pathway to a grant is an invitation from our staff to submit a proposal to Barr. To stay informed of what’s happening in their fields, Foundation staff devote much of their time to engaging with people involved with Barr’s issue areas, including community leaders, residents, and field experts. These conversations may lead to invitations to submit a grant proposal.

Request for proposals

From time to time, Barr issues open requests for proposals (RFPs), to provide broad access to funding opportunities, and to ensure we remain open to new ideas and new partnerships. To stay informed about any future RFP opportunities, we encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter.

Special Initiatives

On occasion, consistent with the Foundation’s mission of service and commitment to the long-term strength, vitality, and resilience of our region, Barr awards grants outside of its core focus areas. These grants typically support specific, time-limited opportunities, and the invitation process varies based on the initiative. Learn more about Barr’s Special Initiatives.

Inquiries from potential new partners

Through the various pathways outlined above, we aim to remain open to new ideas and new partners. Yet, we recognize that our networks have their limits. So, we also welcome inquiries from those who believe their work aligns with Barr’s priorities and wish to introduce themselves to us. The best approach is to email a brief description (we suggest 300–400 words) of your organization and the funding opportunity you would like us to consider to:

We review and reply to all inquiries.

Submit feedback about our grantmaking process

Our Grantees

Barr supports a diverse set of grantees across our program areas.

Search our grants database

Grant Announcements