Overview

Between 1951 and 1968, the Hillman Foundation, Polk Foundation, Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation, and Henry L. Hillman Foundation were created by John Hartwell Hillman, Jr., Patricia Hillman Miller, Mary Hillman Jennings, and Henry L. Hillman, respectively.

Continuing this family commitment to philanthropy, between 1986 and 2006, Henry L. Hillman created fourteen foundations in the names of his wife, children and grandchildren, many of which have continued to grow through the family’s contributions. Each foundation has its own funding priorities to honor the particular interests of the person for whom it is named. Additional biographical information on Henry L. Hillman can be found on this page.

Hillman Family Foundations (HFF) was created in 2009 when the 18 separate foundations were formally reorganized as one corporation. Based in Pittsburgh, HFF now supports the philanthropic and civic work of four generations of Hillman family members. With program interests in seven cities and regions across the United States, each of the 18 foundations has a unique mission and geographic focus governed principally by a living Hillman family member or according to the wishes of the person for whom the fund is named.

An evolving commitment to local philanthropy as opportunity

The Hillman foundations continually evolve in their interests and the focus of their philanthropy. Their ability to adapt to changing community circumstances and nimbly respond to emerging needs is perhaps the central hallmark of the family’s giving over time. In recognition of the Hillman family’s historic and continuing connection to the people and institutions of Pittsburgh, five of the foundations (Henry L. Hillman, Hillman, Elsie H. Hillman, Mary Hillman Jennings, and Polk) and the majority of grant dollars are targeted at the needs of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Although all 18 individual foundations are dedicated to improving the quality of life in their respective geographic areas, each one strives to achieve that mission by supporting effective projects and leveraging other support–both financial and moral–to grow the best ideas and to invest in innovative solutions to local economic and social challenges.

How philanthropy can leverage strengths and competitive advantages

The Hillman foundations prefer to support projects that increase and leverage an organization’s, city’s, or region’s strengths and competitive advantages. This is especially true in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania.

Over our history, the Henry L. Hillman and Hillman Foundations have fostered a culture within HFF that emphasizes an opportunistic approach to advance new ideas and expand our impact. Hillman philanthropy, for instance, has helped to develop and promote new technology in medicine, transportation, and energy. It has helped human service providers to work more effectively. It has improved the urban landscape through better design and helped cultural organizations to perform at their best.

We are looking for great ideas

Today, the Hillman Family Foundations are engaged in an ambitious new chapter in our evolution. We are looking for imaginative, forward-looking ideas about how organizations can drive change and make big differences in the communities they serve. We welcome new strategies or novel approaches to longstanding problems.

Our ambition for our philanthropy is to be a true partner with and connector among grantees and civic leaders as together we seek to improve the quality of life in our communities.