The Heinz Endowments were formed in 2007 through the merger of the Howard Heinz Endowment, created in 1941, and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, created in 1986.
The endowment’s primary purpose is aiding organizations in western Pennsylvania, but the foundation has a national profile because of its collaborations with other left-of-center philanthropies and because of Teresa Heinz Kerry’s dual role as chairman of the Heinz Endowments and as wife of former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.
In 1941 Howard Heinz, son of condiment creator H.J. Heinz, founded the Howard Heinz Endowment. In 1986, his daughter-in-law, Vira I. Heinz, founded the Vira I. Heinz Endowment. In 2007, the two endowments formally merged. 
Teresa Heinz Kerry
By 1990, the Heinz Endowments were under the control of H.J. Heinz’s great-grandson, then-U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III (R-PA). In 1991, Sen. Heinz was killed in a plane crash, and his fortune and control of the Heinz Endowments went to his widow, Teresa Heinz, who in 1995 married then-Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). In 2003, Forbes estimated Heinz Kerry’s wealth as at least $550 million, making her #391 on Forbes’s list of the 500 richest Americans at the time. 
Several Capital Research Center reports in 2003 and 2004 discussed the Heinz Endowments. Gretchen Randall and Tom Randall noted that the Howard Heinz Endowment granted $4.3 million to the left-of-center Tides Foundation and Tides Center from 1993 through 2003 and that Tides and Heinz jointly created the Tides Center of Western Pennsylvania to support environmental projects in that region. Among the Tides Center of Western Pennsylvania’s projects were supporting the Student Environmental Action Coalition and Global Connections, which promoted a more active engagement in foreign policy with Latin America, Africa, and Asia. 
Ron Arnold noted Teresa Heinz Kerry’s personal support and that of the Heinz Family Fund for the League of Conservation Voters, which had an affiliated PAC, the LCV Action Fund, which donated $19,000 to John Kerry’s presidential campaign in January 2004. In addition, Heinz Endowment money went to several organizations represented on the league’s board, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Wilderness Society. 
Arnold noted the Heinz endowments’ grants to Environmental Defense, which had Teresa Heinz Kerry on its board. Environmental Defense received $3.4 million from the Heinz endowments from 1992 through 2003. Arnold noted that Heinz Kerry had suspended her membership on the Environmental Defense board for the duration of her husband’s presidential campaign.  The Boston Globe reported that Heinz Kerry was “an outspoken environment activist” and that she was on the Environmental Defense board when Sen. John Heinz “was supported by the United Mine Workers.” 
Teresa Heinz Kerry stayed on as chairman of the Heinz Endowments and remained a trustee of the Brookings Institution. League of Conversation Voters president Deb Callahan told the Los Angeles Times that their early endorsement of John Kerry was because “he had the strongest environmental record” and not because of Heinz grants.  The Tides Foundation denied that Heinz money supported Peaceful Tomorrows, a group critical of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars  or the Institute for Global Communications, which provided Internet services to groups supporting the regime of Fidel Castro such as the Cuban Solidarity Coalition and Defend Socialist Cuba.  The H.J. Heinz Company said that the company was a “non-partisan organization” and that the Heinz philanthropies and the Heinz family held less than four percent of the company’s stock. 
In 2016, Teresa Heinz Kerry retired as chair of the Heinz Endowments, with her three sons, Andre Heinz, Christopher Heinz, and H. John Heinz IV to chair the board for four-year terms.  Andre Heinz was chair of the board as of May 2022. 
In 2014 Grant Oliphant became president of the Heinz Endowments. Oliphant had served as then-Sen. John Heinz’s press secretary and previously worked as vice-president of the Heinz Endowments and president of the Pittsburgh Foundation. In 2017, the Chronicle of Philanthropy noted that Oliphant “sent a clear message: I am part of the resistance” to President Donald Trump, that the endowments would “fight back” against Trump, and that Oliphant wanted to show nonprofits “That the foundation is committed to supporting them in the struggle for social justice.”  In 2021, Oliphant said the Heinz Endowments would no longer fund the Philanthropy Roundtable, saying the organization supported “the corrosive, partisan, divisive rhetoric that we now see permeating politics.” 
Oliphant left the Heinz Endowments in 2022 to become president of the Conrad Prebys Foundation. 
In 2017 Grant Oliphant, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and former Vice President Al Gore appeared on a panel sporting the Climate Reality Project, an environmentalist activist organization created by Gore and supported by the Heinz Endowments. “No city in America has staked its future on remaking its relationship with the environment as clearly as Pittsburgh has,” Oliphant said. 
A 2019 Capital Research Center report detailed that Heinz Endowments spent $12 million on environmental grants to “political groups that aim to wipe out coal production, ‘clean air’ groups that support stricter emission regulations, and ‘environmental justice’ advocates,” including the Group Against Smog and Pollution, the Keystone Research Center, and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. 
Grants to Black Community Organizations
In November 2020, the Heinz Endowments announced a $12 million program to aid the Black community in Pittsburgh. The Endowments’ chief equity officer, Carmen Anderson, said the grants were part of an effort “to support the Black community and other marginalized citizens.”  In 2021, the Endowments matched a $5 million grant from the Ford Foundation for grants to Black cultural organizations in Pittsburgh.