Foundation History

Jay and Rose 2Foundation History

In 1944, Jay and Rose Phillips created a philanthropic foundation so that their longstanding practice of giving back to the community could continue far into the future.

As children of Russian Jewish immigrants, Jay and Rose Phillips both grew up in hard working families that placed great importance on the Jewish values of charity, loving-kindness and social justice.  Even as an eight-year-old newsboy working to help support his family, Jay left a portion of his earnings at the local bakery for the hungry.

Jay extended this generosity throughout his lifetime – his was one of the first companies to incorporate profit sharing practices, giving employees a portion of his company’s returns. Together with Rose, Jay diligently shared the couple’s resources, building a stronger community for all Minnesotans.  Throughout his life, Jay worked tirelessly to break down the barriers of anti-Semitism, becoming the first Jewish President of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, and the first Jewish member of the Minneapolis Club and the Automobile Club.  He insisted these organizations be open to all, and in time, the walls of discrimination came down.

From the beginning, the Foundation focused on areas where Jay saw the greatest need: efforts to combat discrimination and honor diversity, self-sufficiency through a hand up not a hand out, health, education, and efforts that helped people with disabilities live a full and healthy life.

In 1987, the National Society of Fundraising Executives named Jay the National Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year.  In accepting the award, Jay spoke prophetically of the responsibility of foundations to address the unmet human and social needs during times of severe economic hardship and financial distress.  He said:

“Allow me to share with you some philosophy I have endeavored to subscribe to down through the years. The test of progress and the measure of one’s success is not whether we are able to add more to the abundance we have already acquired, but are we providing enough from this store of good fortune for those around us who have so very little?”

Jay passed away in 1992, and Rose followed in 2002 at the age of 103. They are greatly missed by their family and many friends who remember the couple’s gracious, modest generosity and devotion to the community. Their commitment and vision are as important today as they were nearly 70 years ago when The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation started its work.

In 2010, the Foundation restructured and entered a new chapter of its history. To better serve the three branches of the family represented by Jay and Rose’s three children, the Foundation split into three separate and distinct foundations focused on the communities where these families now live:  Minnesota, Colorado, and California.  The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota continues to provide funding to a variety of efforts throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area.