Legacy Initiatives

For more than 70 years, Public Welfare Foundation has adapted to meet the challenges of changing times, ranging from supporting healthcare reforms to education to workers’ rights.

Adapting to Pressing Issues of the Day

Charles Edward Marsh founded Public Welfare Foundation with an intentionally vague name to give the Foundation the ability to evolve with time. He believed the Foundation, like business, would need the flexibility to address the pressing issues of the day.

For more than 70 years, Public Welfare Foundation has adapted to meet the challenges of changing times. Its current mission – to advance justice and opportunity for people in need, honoring core values of racial equity, economic well-being and fundamental fairness for all – harkens to the organization’s roots in serving the most vulnerable “in a manner which destroys neither the dignity nor the initiative of the receiver.” The execution of that mission has evolved from an original list of guidelines to a focus on core programs and an innovation fund reserved for special opportunities.

In 2019, Public Welfare Foundation announced it is exiting its work in Workers’ Rights over the course of two years and ending its time-bound Civil Legal Aid initiative to focus its efforts on a new, transformative vision of justice through deeper investments in criminal justice and youth justice.

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Civil Legal Aid


Public Welfare Foundation’s special initiative on Civil Legal Aid ran from 2011 to 2019 to support increased access to Civil Legal Aid and catalyze solutions that developed a better continuum of services to assist those with essential legal needs.

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Workers’ Rights


Workers’ Rights was first launched in 2007 as a special initiative on paid sick leave and then formally became a Foundation program area in 2008. The program was founded on the belief that low-wage and vulnerable workers need more power to make the American Dream a reality.