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A Message from John Harrington and Maureen Bleday of the Yawkey Foundation

On behalf of the Yawkey Foundation Trustees and staff, we would like to extend our warm wishes for the upcoming year and share some reflections on 2022.

First and foremost, we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to our nonprofit partners who have spent the past year delivering care and hope. The dedication, talent, and compassion of so many exceptional individuals is inspiring. For the blessings they bring and sacrifices they make in fulfilling their organizations’ respective missions—consistent with the values that were so important to our founders Tom Yawkey and Jean Yawkey—we are deeply grateful.

By following in the footsteps and the quiet sense of responsibility of the Yawkeys, the Foundation provided more than $20 million in 2022 to organizations helping individuals, families, and communities fulfill their potentials and achieve their aspirations, especially those doing so amidst persistent challenges and deeply entrenched barriers to opportunity. The Foundation remained true to its core principles while also being intentional in reducing the administrative burden on nonprofits seeking funding and increasing the number of multiyear grant awards to help nonprofits better plan for longer-range goals. We made strides in supporting traditionally under-resourced nonprofits in the Gateway Cities of Eastern Massachusetts, continued our momentum-building relationships with emerging nonprofits and a new generation of nonprofit leaders, and provided opportunities for nonprofit staff members to enhance their own well-being and effectiveness. Looking at the 2022 portfolio in hindsight, we firmly believe that the decisions made by our Trustees reflect what the Yawkeys would have invested in if they were here with us today.

The past year marked several poignant milestone anniversaries for the Foundation. With our most recent grant to Dana Farber Cancer Institute to support patients experiencing financial hardship, we noted that it was 70 years ago that Tom Yawkey first supported the work of pediatric pathologist Dr. Sidney Farber. The following year, Tom designated Dr. Farber’s Children’s Cancer Research Foundation, otherwise known as the Jimmy Fund, as the official charity of the Boston Red Sox.

While somberly marking 30 years since Jean Yawkey’s death in 1992, it was bittersweet to also commemorate the 40th anniversary of her having established Yawkey Foundation, built upon decades of Tom and Jean’s quiet, often anonymous generosity.

And it was 20 years ago that the Yawkey Foundation was enriched with more than $400 million through the 2002 sale of the Boston Red Sox. At that time, the Board of Trustees expanded with six new Trustees, including three of whom we are immensely fortunate to have continuing to serve in the capacity today: Chuck I. Clough, Judy Walden Scarafile, and Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond. Along with the Trustees who have subsequently joined the Board to date, these individuals, all deeply connected within their respective neighborhoods and communities, are uniquely qualified to be entrusted with perpetuating the Yawkeys’ philanthropic legacy, a legacy that has provided more than $550 million to nonprofits creating positive change.

We feel certain that Tom and Jean would be delighted with this past summer’s opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City, of which Yawkey Foundation is a founding supporter, representing a friendship established in the 1980s between Jean Yawkey and Rachel Robinson and the subsequent partnership that has spanned decades since between our organizations. We were honored to be part of the museum’s opening in September 2022 and were deeply moved as visitors entered the Yawkey Sports Gallery to learn about Jackie Robinson’s life and impact, advancing equal opportunity. In juxtaposition to this auspicious museum’s opening, given their passion for the game of baseball, we feel certain that the Yawkeys would be equally delighted by a grant that made recreational youth baseball programs available at no charge to children in the city of Lowell.

Other high points took place in South Carolina, where, throughout his lifetime, Tom Yawkey maintained a great love for the people, culture, and natural beauty of the property his uncle had originally purchased in 1914. To perpetuate Tom’s passion for preserving the Lowcountry’s human stories and culture, the Trustees provided a transformational grant to the International African American Museum in Charleston. When the IAAM opens in 2023, illuminating African American history and experiences through the lens of the Lowcountry, this partnership will be a meaningful complement to the ongoing Gullah Geechee archeological research which has been underway for decades at the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center. 

In June 2022, the Foundation also announced a land donation of 269-acres on Georgetown’s Cat Island to the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, adding to the existing 31-square mile area of conservation land that Tom bequeathed to the State of South Carolina, thereby ensuring that his lifetime efforts in acquiring and preserving the land for wildlife, research, and a waterfowl refuge would endure in perpetuity. 

We’re fortunate to still have the ability to learn about the Yawkeys from those who actually knew the couple first-hand. We’re committed to researching and disseminating information that will correct false and inaccurate narratives about Tom Yawkey, while sharing facts about the ways Tom was molded by his early life, his evolution as an adult, and why he and Jean dedicated their fortune to the creation of opportunity, especially for communities historically subjected to disinvestment.

In reflecting on these 2022 milestones and accomplishments, and simultaneously looking ahead to 2023, we are cognizant that our actions and decisions will have ripple effects for decades, just as did those of the Yawkeys. On behalf of the Trustees and staff, we are committed to perpetuating the couple’s understated way of giving, grounded in their lived values of compassion, grace, and opportunity for all.


Harrington & Bleday Signatures
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