The Tigray region of Ethiopia.

From Local to Global

In our first three years of global work, we made twenty-three grants totaling $20.5 million across East Africa, Haiti, and India.

In 2010, after a decade focused on our home city of Boston, Barr launched a pilot in global grantmaking. We set out to learn whether a small, Boston-based team could meaningfully engage with efforts to reduce inequity in the global south.

From the beginning we had two priorities: impact and learning. For impact we gravitated toward organizations with proven leaders and innovative, scalable models. To maximize learning we were intentionally broad in selecting geographies, types of partners, investment approaches, and portfolio areas. All of our investments were concentrated on areas critical for people to thrive: health, livelihoods, and the environment.

The Local to Global report.

In our first three years of global work, Barr made twenty-three grants totaling $20.5 million across East Africa, Haiti, and India. These supported small-hold farmers to improve their crop yields and manage their natural resources; they trained community health workers to improve the health of mothers and young children; and they helped introduce and scale business models that created sustainable markets for important household goods, such as solar lights and irrigation pumps. All of our global activities were planned and implemented in close collaboration with community members, local organizations, and governments, with a strong focus on capacity building.

When starting our global work in 2010, we began with many questions. After three years we had answered some of them. Yet, in this work, there are always questions beyond questions and ongoing learnings. Some of the questions we wrestled with and what we have learned through global giving we shared through our publication From Local to Global. The report summarizes Barr’s approach, grant investments, and initiative learnings. It is also our attempt to spotlight the amazing organizations that are creating lasting and positive change, and to encourage others to join the growing fleet already sailing into this work.