To advance its vision of a vibrant, just, and sustainable world with hopeful futures for children, Barr’s domestic work focuses primarily on:
Our major emphases are on early education, the Boston Public School system, and out-of-school time. Our overarching education goal is to close education opportunity gaps in Boston so that public school achievement is no longer predicted by demographics or address.
To demonstrate how to meet aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (and to do so equitably), Barr invests in large-scale efforts to help cities and towns make their buildings more energy efficient. We also support work to improve the links between where people live, work, learn and play, and to make all forms of transportation – driving, biking, walking, public transit – safer and more affordable, accessible, and efficient. In this work, our primary focus is the Commonwealth’s metro areas. However, given the global nature of this challenge, and the diversity of cities and towns exhibiting real leadership, we also invest in select statewide, regional, and national efforts.
To enhance cultural vitality in the city of Boston, we invest primarily in mid-sized arts and cultural institutions and in organizations that provide young people opportunities to experience and pursue excellence in the arts.
Increasing Civic Engagement and Community Resilience
Underpinning investments in these areas is Barr’s commitment to a racially just and caring community with robust civic engagement. Our signature Barr Fellows Program connects gifted nonprofit leaders to help make this vision real. A small portfolio of grants provides operating support for organizations with a strong track record of developing new leaders of color.
Barr Global was established in 2010 to improve the lives of children and families in poverty in developing countries. The Global team is building a portfolio of projects that delivers measurable improvements in the interconnected areas of Livelihoods, Health, Environment and Education, predominantly in rural areas. Our investments are currently focused in sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti and India. Barr collaborates with a variety of partners in these settings, ranging from local grassroots organizations to foreign ministries, to internationally recognized social entrepreneurs and large international organizations. Barr Global employs an outcome-driven approach designed to produce the greatest social and environmental return.
In each of our strategies, we work to be clear about what success looks like. Our eyes are on the ends – on specific outcomes and measurable results. Yet we are also focused on the means. At Barr, our approach is guided by a hypothesis that deep and lasting change often requires attention to:
- Networks: Too often in the nonprofit sector, organizations work in isolation. Yet, when leaders cross boundaries and work through networks, the results are often more robust and lasting. In our work that spans multiple interconnected fields, we see many opportunities for organizations to network. These networks can take many different forms. Both funders and nonprofits have much to learn in order to work in this new way more effectively.
- Community-Based Leadership: The real agents of change are those most commonly referred to as "beneficiaries" - the children, adults, families, and communities who literally change their present and future. As catalysts and accelerators of that change, we invest in leaders who live and work in communities and are reflective of their demographics. Such leaders create and strengthen civil society, weaving the deep, trusting relationships that are the fabric of communities.
- Systems Thinking: Complex systems often resist, or even undermine change efforts. Common “solutions” to challenges sometimes just treat symptoms, without addressing root causes. Sometimes our “solutions” have unintended consequences that exacerbate, or create new problems elsewhere. At Barr, we consistently work to improve our thinking about how systems behave, and to identify the leverage points for creating lasting change.
- Racial Justice: As we think about systems and root causes, we are particularly focused on those that contribute to racial inequity. Even if we control for levels of education, income, and other factors, racial gaps often persist in health, wealth, and other quality of life indicators. This is the result of many interwoven historic and contemporary patterns, such as residential segregation and concentrated poverty. We seek to support efforts that disrupt these patterns and bring us closer to a world where race does not predict a child's opportunities.
- Knowledge and Learning: We seek to identify knowledge gaps in our interest areas and to fill those gaps by commissioning and sharing research, by helping nonprofits access information and expertise that can strengthen their work, and by helping people working on the same issues to connect, coordinate, and share what they are learning.
Enhancing Cultural Vitality
Closing Education Opportunity Gaps
Mitigating Climate Change
Overcoming Poverty Abroad