Where We Focus

Our Program Goals and Strategies

Barr’s strategies flow from our mission to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. We recognize the many opportunities in our region to invest in the potential of visionary leaders, effective organizations, and powerful ideas.

Our strategies also make concrete our aspiration to serve as both stewards and catalysts. As stewards, we bring an abiding commitment to stick with complex challenges over the long term and a willingness to double down on progress. As catalysts, we embrace risk and opportunities to invest in breakthrough ideas.

Download an overview of our strategies

Arts & Creativity Program

Goal: Elevate the arts and enable creative expression to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts.

Arts and creativity have the power to connect us with each other, to help us understand our dynamic environment, and to imagine new and better futures. In a time of rapidly changing demographics, technological advancements, and evolving art forms, Barr seeks to invest in bold ideas and leaders through three strategies.

Arts & Creativity Strategies:

  1. Invest in organizations to be adaptive and relevant.
  2. Join arts with other sectors to foster creative problem-solving, broaden arts participation, share new resources for the arts, and forge new cross-disciplinary alliances.
  3. Activate public support for arts and creativity.

Climate Program

Goal: Address climate change by advancing solutions for clean energy, mobility, and resilient communities.

While climate change is a global challenge, cities, states, and regions have become vital agents of leadership. We believe that Barr can help catalyze and advance solutions and leadership across our region in ways that also spur broader action. We focus our mitigation efforts on the two areas that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions: 1) how we generate and use energy; and 2) how we move around—each with a distinct goal and set of strategies.

In addition, we acknowledge that even with concerted efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change, they are inevitable. Coastal cities such as Boston are particularly vulnerable. Our Climate Resilience focus area aims to increase the capacity of Metro Boston communities to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Clean Energy Goal: Reduce the energy sector’s emissions by building the path to a clean, efficient, and modern energy system.

Clean Energy Strategies:

  1. Accelerate the expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Northeast.
  2. Promote sharing of effective clean energy practices, policies, and communication strategies across the U.S. and globally.

Mobility Goal: Reduce transportation-related emissions by modernizing our transportation system and accelerating the development of low-carbon communities.

Mobility Strategies:

  1. Improve and modernize the region’s transportation system.
  2. Accelerate the development of low-carbon communities.

Climate Resilience Goal: Increase the capacity of Metro Boston communities to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Climate Resilience Strategies:

  1. Build awareness of climate impacts, risks, and resilience strategies.
  2. Mobilize key constituencies to advance policy and implement resilience plans.
  3. Support demonstration projects that integrate resilience into the fabric of cities.

Education Program

We work across New England to help more young people succeed.

Barr partners with capable and committed leaders in a variety of district and charter schools.

Our Strategies:

  1. Catalyze new models.
  2. Build public will.
  3. Invest in educators.

Our Approach:

  1. Pilot ideas: We provide risk capital and technical support that educational innovators need to plan, implement, and measure the success of promising ideas that can improve outcomes for young people and communities.
  2. Scale success: We foster the expansion or replication of models that have demonstrated a positive impact on student engagement, learning, and outcomes across entire schools, districts, and regions.
  3. Inform change: We sponsor research and evaluation, and share insights to guide policymakers, equip practitioners, and help funders committed to elevating outcomes for students—especially those not well served by traditional high schools.

Balancing Staying Power and Flexibility

In our view, the most effective strategies are never static. Strategic planning is an ongoing and iterative process. While we have articulated a clear set of directions for Barr, we fully intend to refine and adapt these strategies based on what we learn along the way, our partnerships with others, and in response to shifts in the external environment. Our aim is to ensure we have staying power on complex and vital issues while avoiding rigidity.