About BFF

Learn more about our mission, our approach to grants and investing, and our goal of creating positive social change for the citizens of Washington, D.C.

From the Executive Director, Ami Becker Aronson

Imagine if… our nation’s capital could be a model for social change and best practice. Our community has the talent, resources, and tools to flip the switch and raise the bar.

BFF works to provide creativity and leadership to leverage and combine those resources into projects that can bring positive impact and responsible disruption to the status quo.

We strive to ask the right questions – What works? What doesn’t work? How do we overcome redundancy and inefficiency? What can we be doing better and more imaginatively?

We have an opportunity to accelerate positive change in our community.

By investing in new ways of thinking, the Bernstein Family Foundation no longer has to stay stuck in traditional philanthropy and remain isolated in our three focus areas. We are starting to see emerging trends and greater impact through unusual convergences, like arts and democracy (Landmark Music Festival) or arts and Judaism (Shabbat at National Museum of Women in the Arts). In fact, the greatest opportunity for change is found by listening to what the community leaders truly need, beyond funding: access to other funders, opportunities to engage with other like-minded thought leaders, and adoption of private-sector thinking in the non-profit space.

On behalf of the Bernstein Family Foundation, I am pleased to present the newly updated Bernstein Family Foundation website. We hope to use this space to highlight trends, community leaders, and innovation. This Foundation was founded by the ultimate innovator, risk taker, and entrepreneur – Leo Bernstein. In his physical absence, he remains a source of inspiration, guiding our family to make investments in people and ideas that will raise the bar for everyone.

Yrs of Consistent Giving



Lives Touched

Bernstein Family Foundation Leadership

Our Foundation is a family concern and is entirely managed by a Board of Directors comprised of the children and grandchildren of Leo M. Bernstein. Meet the Board and learn about the wide range of passions and expertise that we bring to the grant process, and about our drive to maintain Leo’s legacy of engagement in the D.C. community.

7 decades of grant-making. 5 generations of connection to the D.C. area. Learn more about how the BFF was formed and how we are evolving our mission.

Our Guiding Principles

In order for an organization to function, whether in biblical or modern times, it must have boundaries and a strong cultural identity. The intention behind creating our ten commandments our guiding principles and values was to align and strengthen our collective identity. Even though we have a diverse Board, we have more in common than we have differences.

These commandments reflect our unity. As we remain devoted to our Founder’s character and influence, we continue to refine and evolve to ensure we are relevant and effective in the community.

Philanthropy is a PRIVILEGE and an OPPORTUNITY.

The Board will conduct itself with integrity. We will remain devoted to our Founder’s legacy, yet we will impart our authentic style and perspective.

FAMILY is important.

We value our differences, and we will concentrate our investments in areas where we share a common ground – Jewish Causes, American Democracy, and Arts & Culture.

CRITICAL THINKING is essential in our decision-making about whom to fund.

Our intention is to positively impact the well-being of our nation’s capital and communities in which we live.


We will roll up our sleeves to become part of that change.

We are not here to reinvent the wheel, but rather to BUILD on the EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE.

We value strategic partnerships and hope to attract other stakeholders to accelerate change.


We can’t solve any one social issue or challenge, but we commit to creating mechanisms to harvest and transmit our ideas for everyone’s benefit.

We will act as an INCUBATOR for INNOVATION, focusing on the greater D.C. area.

That said, we will take interest in activity that can have a ripple effect on a regional or national level.

We will LEVERAGE our intellectual and social capital to magnify our grant-making.

We will bring different people and groups together to strengthen initiatives in our three core focus areas.

We will TAKE RISKS the right way.

By conducting due diligence, asking the right questions, and surrounding ourselves with quality people and organizations, we can be leaders with significant impact.

We believe that the field of philanthropy is strengthened when leaders in diverse fields SHARE and LEARN from each other.

By sharing ideas, we can reduce redundancy and improve efficiency models.