Investing in People & Ideas in the Nation's Capital

American Democracy | Arts & Culture | Jewish Causes

About The Foundation

For nearly 70 years, the Bernstein Family Foundation has invested in people and ideas with the goal of celebrating and empowering the greater Washington, D.C. community.

It was established in 1952 by our family patriarch, Leo M. Bernstein. Born at the turn of the century in the heart of Washington, D.C., Leo was an innovator, an explorer, a successful entrepreneur, and a community leader.

To this day, the Foundation’s vision is powered by the legacy of his character and contributions. We are inspired by his lifelong commitment to thinking critically, encouraging innovation, building community, promoting strong social values, and bringing people together to share, learn, and create change.

Investing in Human and Spiritual Capital

We believe that philanthropy can be a powerful catalyst for social evolution, and that investing in human and spiritual capital is just as important as providing financial capital.

Established in 1952, the Bernstein Family Foundation invests in people and ideas in our nation’s capital through:

LEADERSHIP – We identify and support dynamic community leaders who transcend traditional thinking and bring new ideas to the table.

ENGAGEMENT – We foster innovation through critical thinking, public dialogue, and the exchange of ideas about how the future can be different.

CONVERGENCE – We leverage resources, relationships, and strategic partnerships across multiple disciplines to help people work together to create social change.

Funding American Democracy

The Bernstein family has had strong ties to the Washington, D.C. area for six generations. As the descendants of a Jewish immigrant who found a home in the United States, we believe passionately in the principles and values of American democracy, and we welcome engagements that promote the appreciation of these values.

Funding Arts and Culture

We believe that art is a foundational element of a healthy society. It can educate, it can build community, and it can inspire and catalyze change in individuals and in society.  The Foundation is committed to fostering a healthy cultural environment in our home city and beyond.

Funding Jewish Causes

The Foundation supports efforts that strengthen the Jewish community of Washington, D.C. by supporting synagogues, community programs, and leaders in the spiritual arena.

Ideas & Inspirations Blog

Philanthropy is measured not only in the numbers grants provided, people affected but in the societal changes, the impact, and the inspirations that happen as a result of those projects. What is the impact of our grants on the people, on the community, and on the D.C. area as a whole? Join our discussion!

Most Recent Posts

Halim Flowers

Halim Flowers

Tell me more about your time with the Halcyon Arts Lab. What was your vision/goals for this time? What is your vision for the future of these endeavors?  I came home March 21, 2019 after serving 22 years in prison. I had...

Alon Chen

Alon Chen

Weizmann Institute President Prof. Alon Chen is Breaking the MoldBy Ami Aronson of the Bernstein Family Foundation From a very young age, Prof. Alon Chen knew that he wanted to dedicate his life to science.Today, he is a renowned neuroscientist who has served as...