As children of Russian Jewish immigrants, Jay and Rose Phillips both grew up in hardworking 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 and Rose saw the greatest need: efforts to combat discrimination and honor diversity; investments to promote self-sufficiency through a hand up rather than a handout; health; education; and efforts to help people with disabilities live a full and healthy life.
“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 75 years ago when The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation started its work.
In 2011, 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. In Minnesota, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation continued to support a variety of efforts throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Since 2016, the Phillips Foundation has focused its grantmaking in North Minneapolis, a community where it has many grantee relationships, and where the Phillips family has historic roots. The Foundation embraces community-led decision-making practices to ensure that its overarching strategy and individual grants align with residents’ aspirations. Since 2016, committees of community advisors have worked with staff to create grantmaking programs, read proposals, conduct site visits, and recommend grants to the Phillips Foundation’s Board of Directors. In 2022, the Foundation awarded $3.2 million in grants.
In North Minneapolis, the Foundation currently makes grants in three areas, including education, economic development, and community safety.