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About Us

Mission Statement

The Commonwealth Fund — among the first private foundations started by a woman philanthropist, Anna M. Harkness — was established in 1918 with the broad charge to enhance the common good.

Today, the mission of The Commonwealth Fund is to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, and people of color.

The Fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy. An international program in health policy is designed to stimulate innovative policies and practices in the United States and other industrialized countries.

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Commonwealth Fund has made a commitment to become an antiracist organization. That commitment extends not only to our research agenda, our grantmaking, and our communications, but also to all aspects of our internal operations — from staffing and hiring practices to the management of our endowment. Click to learn more.

Rural hospital construction

Foundation History

In 1918, Anna Harkness founded the Commonwealth Fund with the mandate that it should “do something for the welfare of mankind.” Among the first women to establish a foundation, Anna initially endowed the foundation with a gift of nearly $10 million. The Fund’s first president was her son, Edward Stephen Harkness, who was committed to building a responsive and socially concerned philanthropy and who, over the years, gave generously to the Fund’s endowment.

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