Harbus Foundation turns 10

Q: What do get you when you put $800,000 in the hands of 400 HBS students?

A: Ten years of the nation’s only MBA-student run foundation making a difference in the Boston community.

Grant recipients are all Boston-area organizations pursuing initiatives related to education, literacy or journalism. Each grantee beat out at least three to five other organizations handpicked by seven teams of HBS students for review.

Created with a $700,000 donation by the Harbus News Corporation, the Harbus Foundation has awarded over $800,000 in grants to over forty organizations since 1997. The Foundation pursues two missions. First, the Foundation works to generate a positive impact in the Boston community by donating time, expertise, and money to excellent nonprofit organizations. Second, the Foundation promotes HBS student involvement in social enterprise, educating students on current issues in philanthropy and inspiring them to remain active in the social sector well beyond HBS.

The Foundation’s accomplishments extend beyond its grantmaking. “When you consider all the challenges of running this kind of organization, it’s an achievement simply to still be around,” explains outgoing Trustee Paul Lee (OA). “Each year, our entire leadership team and much of our membership changes, either as students graduate or elect to explore other opportunities. This makes long-term planning and capacity building very difficult.”

Despite these challenges, the Foundation remains successful and sustainable. Each year, the Foundation receives more than twice as many applications from interested students as it has slots available. Grantee recipients and runners-up often re-apply for funding in subsequent years, impressed by the depth of thought and attention Harbus teams devote to the evaluation process.

Financial sustainability is also crucial. “We’ve been both smart and lucky in growing our endowment,” continues Lee. ” Our current financial position is strong, and we have refined our investment strategy over the years to ensure we can continue to support annual grantmaking levels without compromising the long-term health of the foundation.”

Lee and his fellow outgoing Trustees Kunal Merchant (OE) and Mike Walsh (OJ) will spend the final weeks of school transitioning to new leadership: Kate Randall (NI), Peter Park (NJ), and Peter Stone (ND). Please contact them or visit www.harbusfoundation.org for more information.