Our Approach

The Wagner Foundation believes meaningful change is effected by looking closely at the needs of each community and developing holistic, cross-disciplinary solutions to meet unique challenges. This methodology is based on the recognition that the opportunity to achieve individual potential can be constrained by social, medical, or environmental factors unique to a particular community. 

We invest in flexible organizations that can creatively partner, adapt, and innovate, while not losing sight of common goals. These goals are often met by addressing many challenges, reflecting distinct areas of expertise, at once. Sometimes an investment in public health produces a greater cultural return than one in the arts. The opposite may also be true. Understanding how the pieces of a solution fit together, within and across organizations, is the basis of an integrated success. Ultimately, we must work together, sometimes against our own expectations, to help citizens build the foundation of truly independent, culturally distinct communities.


Focus Areas

With the goal of achieving just and robust communities, we invest in organizations in five focus areas, with emphasis given to the most pressing challenges in the communities in which we work.

 The Wagner Foundation supports mosaics of integrated initiatives.

We work across disciplines to develop solutions that address the unique needs of each community. It is this mosaic of integrated initiatives that achieves lasting transformation.

Growing Opportunity
All individuals should be able to achieve their full potential, no matter what boundaries may stand in their way. The Wagner Foundation helps equip the disenfranchised with the skills and support they need to take advantage of economic opportunity, including training, internships, apprenticeships, and other employment. 

Advancing Health Equity
Health is a basic individual right and an essential feature of stable, equitable communities. The Wagner Foundation supports long term investments in a quality health care infrastructure as a means to help guarantee and provide access to this right. More broadly, building coalitions around the development of inclusive health care institutions reaffirms a community’s collective commitment to the welfare of all its members. Historical exclusion of certain segments of communities (such as women) from adequate health care is profoundly destabilizing to society as a whole. The foundation believes that without general welfare and health, all other rights are precarious.

Fostering Learning
To equip the next generation to find and create jobs of the future requires greater investments in education and creativity than ever before. The Wagner Foundation sees overcoming barriers to learning as essential to meeting this need. Well-educated, knowledgeable individuals have the power to shape opportunity and take control of their lives. A quality education enables individuals to understand and access their own potential and mobilize their talents on behalf of their communities.

Art as a Catalyst
Now more than ever, encouraging creativity on an individual and community level is essential to our collective survival, and the Wagner Foundation is committed to supporting both individuals achieving creative innovations as well as arts institutions that provide cultural access to vulnerable populations. Not only does everyone have a right and responsibility to be creative, imagining and shaping our future is an inherently creative act. The Wagner Foundation supports individuals and communities exploring creative ideas that challenge convention. Whether this takes the form of disadvantaged groups questioning fundamental issues shaping their lives, or professional artists challenging us all, we strive to encourage, enable, and teach creativity.

Developing Shelter & Green Space
Communities consist of more than a collection of individuals; they are places and regions, buildings and parks. Improving these physical spaces and structures can transform lives, whether in the form of homes for the economically disadvantaged, temporary shelter for disaster relief, trees in urban areas, or enhanced access to existing green space. The Wagner Foundation supports innovative organizations that help communities improve, sustain, and protect their physical and geographic place in the world.


 Charlotte Wagner
Transformation is a present day activity.
— Charlotte Wagner
Founder & CEO
Wagner Foundation