Hyams Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $7,566,990
Expenses: $8,699,378
Assets: $134,417,963

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The Hyams Foundation is a Boston-based grantmaking foundation that funds left-of-center racial-interest groups.


The Hyams Foundation initially began as a charitable trust founded in 1921 by Godfrey M. Hyams. 1 A Boston metallurgist, engineer, and financier, Hyams amassed much his wealth while working for the Anaconda Mining Company which constructed the Virginia Railway. 2 Upon his death in 1927, the Hyams estate was divided amongst three separate trusts to ensure his wealth would be used for various philanthropic purposes in perpetuity. Specifically, his estate was divided into a primary trust, the Godfrey M. Hyams Trust, and into two smaller trusts named after his parents, Solomon and Clara. 3

One of the first documented donations by the Godfrey M. Hyams Trust was in 1930 when they gifted the Boston Medical Library $25,000 to build and maintain a collection rare writings on Jewish medicine and science. These works included a 1491 edition of the Canon Medicinae of Avicenna, the only medical work printed in Hebrew during the 15th century. 4 In 1946, the Foundation also donated $150,000 for a new laboratory at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 5

In later years, the two smaller trusts we renamed after his sisters and became the Sarah H. Hyams Fund and the Isabel F. Hyams Fund. Since the Godfrey M. Hyams Trust and Sarah H. Hyams trust had identical trustees and grantmaking purposes, trustees voted to merge the two and rename it “The Hyams Foundation” in 1993. 6 The remaining assets of the Isabel F. Hyams Fund which had been used for social services in Boston were eventually transferred to the Foundation in 1996. 7

Shift in Focus

While the three trusts were originally tasked with a simple mandate of supporting charitable organizations within the Boston community, much of this changed in the 1970s and through following years, including during their consolidation in the 1990s. Seeing changes in the ethnic makeup of the community throughout this time, trustees felt it was best to diversify the board and change the scope of their mandate. For example, in 1987 they partnered with the Boston Foundation and the United Way of Massachusetts to create the Human Services Personnel Collaborative, an initiative aimed at helping local non-profits hire and retain staff of color. 8 Similarly, most of the Foundation’s efforts today go to interethnic-relations issues. 9


Since 2008, the Hyams Foundation has awarded over $35 million in grants to various left-of-center racial-interest groups. The Foundation gives special focus to those causes which address “community-identified issues,” “pivotal racial justice issues,” or “important racial justice issues.” The Foundation’s funding covers a wide variety of causes, spanning to those groups who work on ending the school-to-prison pipeline and raising to minimum wage or others dedicated to public policy advocacy and community organizing. 10

When grantmaking the Hyams Foundation considers whether a gift would have the potential to reduce racial or ethnic disparities in Boston and also looks at the organizational diversity of the group requesting a donation since the foundation holds that “ethnically diverse boards and staff are more effective.” 11

According to the organization’s 2017 tax return, the Hyams foundation gave $50,000 to Political Research Associates (PRA), a left-wing nonprofit organization which attempts to discredit mainstream center-right views by tarring them as extremist and bigoted. The same year, it also gave $89,000 to the Proteus Fund, a left-wing “pass-through” funder which gives to activist groups that work to reduce religious freedom, reduce military spending, and promote liberal campaign finance policies.


While serving as the executive director of the Hyams Foundation, Jocelyn Sargent also served on the board of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), a liberal advocacy group that wants to generate more focus on left-progressive causes in the philanthropic sector. In addition to her work with NCRP, Sargent previously worked with the Open Society Institute (now Open Society Foundations), the influential network of liberal foundations funded by George Soros. 12

In 2018, Sargent orchestrated a discussion and book signing that was hosted by Hyams Foundation along with the Social Justice Funders Network and Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. The subject of discussion was a new book by Edgar Villanueva, Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, which argues that philanthropy is still plagued by a colonial mind-set and that the country will have to “go to a dark, ugly place” to come to terms with its past. 13


  1. “History of the Hyams Foundation.” Hyams Foundation. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  2. Capek, Mary and Molly Mead. Effective Philanthropy: Organizational Success through Deep Diversity and Gender Equality. MIT Press.
  3. “History of the Hyams Foundation.” Hyams Foundation. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  4. “Sages, Scholars, and Healers: Judaica From the Solomon M. Hyams Foundation.” Harvard Center for the History of Medicine. Accessed February 1, 2020.–scholars–and-healers–
  5. “University Accepts $5,695,921.19 in Gifts, Headed by Lamont Grant for New Library.” The Harvard Crimson. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  6. “History of the Hyams Foundation.” Hyams Foundation. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  7.             Harman, Marian. “A History of East Boston Camps.” Westford Friends of East Boston Camps. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  8. Capek, Mary and Molly Mead. Effective Philanthropy: Organizational Success through Deep Diversity and Gender Equality. MIT Press.
  9. Pham, Stephanie. “Hyams Foundation.” The Chronicle of Social Change. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  10. Pham, Stephanie. “Hyams Foundation.” The Chronicle of Social Change. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  11. “Our Overall Approach.” Hyams Foundation. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  12. iii “About Jocelyn Sargent.” National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  13. McGloin, Catharine. “Philanthropy plagued by colonial mind-set.” The Bay State Banner. Accessed February 1, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 1995

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form PF $7,566,990 $8,699,378 $134,417,963 $552,357 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $9,838,256 $7,800,239 $144,476,543 $1,172,373 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $10,856,475 $6,491,843 $146,539,977 $1,311,240 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $9,974,584 $9,433,710 $134,908,398 $2,945,424 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $6,421,898 $6,584,174 $129,233,726 $1,510,789 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Hyams Foundation

    50 FEDERAL ST FL 9
    BOSTON, MA 02110-2509