Chairman’s Letter

Dear Friends,

In this time like no other, the J.M. Kaplan Fund remains committed to the ideals set forth by our founder—my grandfather, Jacob Merrill Kaplan—in his quest for a more just and perfect society. As we make every effort to confront the challenges of our time, J.M.’s vision remains our guiding light, as it has for more than 75 years of pioneering philanthropy.

Under a third generation of leadership—with the names of Davidson, Fonseca, Pickering, and Amis joining the founding Kaplan—we honor our past, while reimagining the way we work as grantmakers. Today, we are focused on slowing the pace of climate change and mitigating climate impacts; preserving culture and places that communities cherish most; and strengthening democracy and reforming the criminal justice and immigration systems.

Moreover, the Fund continues to deploy new resources, bringing change to where it is needed most. By increasing our payout, streamlining our operating structure to be even more nimble and responsive, and re-doubling our commitment to environmental, social, and governance-aligned investing, we recognize the opportunity to make our impact even greater for future generations.

Adapting as challenges change over generations, we build from the direction of my mother, Joan K. Davidson. During her seventeen years as the Fund’s president—1977 to 1993—her work made the Fund a leading player in historic preservation and nature conservation. During her tenure, the staff and trustees of the Fund led countless hard-fought preservation efforts and became the largest funder of parks in New York City.

Our family foundation was born in a pursuit for justice and equity that drives our work to this day. J.M. established the Fund when he sold his business, the Welch’s Grape Juice Company, to its growers, creating one of America’s first and largest agricultural co-ops. J.M.’s goal was to create a more just world, and, with the money generated by that transaction, he—and the Fund—were able to support the growth of the labor movement, free education for immigrants, and access to nature for all through public parks.

As we look ahead, the fourth generation of Kaplans—the 16 great-grandchildren of Jacob Merrill Kaplan—are actively learning about the Fund’s history and philanthropic best practices. Collectively known as the Concord Group, their early grantmaking has reinforced the themes of innovation and adaptability for which our giving is often characterized. The Concord Group seeks to lead in groundbreaking philanthropy focused on grantmaking that builds opportunity and creates lasting impact. We welcome them to the mission of continuing our family’s commitment to philanthropy.

We are ever more aware of the fragility of human life, of our planet, and of our democracy. As we take heart in J.M.’s vision to achieve a more perfect society, we are fortunate to rely on an extremely talented staff who mobilize our response to this ever-changing nation and planet. Through their efforts, and the visionary work of our partners and grantees, we are dedicated more than ever to a just world for all.


Thank you for visiting us, and welcome to the Fund.


Peter Davidson