Slam Home PageArts and CultureHuman RightsSustainable Communities and EconomiesColumbia Foundation Home Page

Statement from the Trustees

When our mother, Madeleine Haas Russell, and her brother, William Haas, founded Columbia Foundation in 1940, they were young and they wanted to make a difference. Within the first few years (during WW II), they were distributing grants to support the continuing college education of Japanese-American youth from the internment camps, to provide birth-control education and supplies to migrant women, as well as a start-up grant to establish the San Francisco Foundation. This approach to grantmaking has guided the foundation for the past 72 years; a total of approximately $85 million has been awarded.

Now, after a long period of deliberation, we, the current trustees, have chosen to close Columbia Foundation. Our mother?s strong wish was to involve the next generations in giving, because she believed that young people could best discern the priorities of their time. As we take the step to involve our children in philanthropy ? our three families are spread out both geographically and in age ? we have decided the most effective and efficient path is to divide Columbia?s assets into three respective family foundations. Columbia will cease operations by December 31, 2013. Information about the successor foundations will be posted on the Columbia Foundation website,, in the summer of 2013.

We extend our deepest gratitude to all of our partners ? advisors, fellow foundations, and grantees ? for their vision of, and commitment to creating, a better world. Grantee organizations in the arts, human rights, and sustainable food and farming have: created new operas, music, and plays, and engaged and supported the development of young artists from diverse communities; opened minds and reduced discrimination against gays and lesbians, and reduced recidivism and the number of those imprisoned through ?second-chance? education programs; accelerated the pace and increased the scale of sustainable food-and-farming practices, and worked to protect some of our most precious natural resources for future generations.

We thank the staff of Columbia Foundation ? Susan Clark, who has served as executive director since 1978, grants manager Carolyn Koo, program associate Alex Hoskyns-Abrahall, and accountant Ken Lehto ? for their dedication and outstanding service.

Our mother and her brother set out to make the world a better place, and they would be proud to see all that has been accomplished through the work of the grantees. Their legacy and our family?s tradition of philanthropy will continue.

With appreciation,

Alice Russell-Shapiro
Charles P. Russell
Christine H. Russell


Closing Report
(to be posted in 2014)