HARBUS FOUNDATION: The Nation’s only Foundation Run by MBA Students

The Harbus Foundation is a venture philanthropy organization that was created in 1997 by The Harbus News Corporation. Through annual contributions from the newspaper’s profits and prudent financial management, the Foundation’s endowment has grown to more than $1 million. Last year, 50 Harbus Foundation members gave away seven $10,000 grants to Boston-based initiatives that further education, literacy, and journalism. In addition to making grants, teams of MBA students worked on consulting projects to enhance the social impact of their selected organizations.

The Harbus Foundation selects grant recipients that have meaningful and creative approaches to social change, passionate and committed leadership teams, and strong track records. Past recipients include Spare Change News, Excel Academy, Strong Women Strong Girls, and Centro Latino de Chelsea. Student teams are responsible for designing their own selection criteria, identifying high-potential organizations, requesting grant proposals from these organizations, and conducting interviews and site visits to select the winners.

Some teams continue working with grant recipients to scope and complete a 3-month mission-critical project. Past projects have included marketing analyses, recommendations of growth strategies, operational improvements, and launches of new programs or products. MBAs worked directly with the organization’s leaders, who were eager to tap into their business acumen.

Ian Lane, the co-director of Minds Matter of Boston, a past grant recipient writes: “The Harbus Foundation was sincerely interested in our organization. They really gained an intimate understanding of the role we play in expanding educational opportunities for the Boston community. It’s clear the Foundation wants to produce tangible results and expand the reach of grantee organizations.”

The Harbus Foundation is constantly improving its grant making and consulting model through scheduled workshops with industry leaders such as New Profit (venture philanthropy) and FSG (non-profit consultancy). It was recently recognized by the Taproot Foundation as one of the best MBA-run pro bono consulting organizations. The Harbus Foundation looks forward to promoting student involvement in social enterprise and generating a positive social impact in the Boston community.

If you have any questions about the Harbus Foundation, please reach out to the three Harbus Foundation Trustees:

Vera Makarov (
Mia Saini (
Peter Spring (

Vera Makarov worked on a Harbus Foundation venture philanthropy project to improve the operational and fundraising capabilities of the Cambridge Community Art Center.

October 19, 2009
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