SAconnects spoke with Joshua Kraft, president of Kraft Family Philanthropies and recipient of The Salvation Army Others Award on the day before The Salvation Army Annual Luncheon in Boston.
Mr. Kraft, how did your parents, Myra and Robert Kraft, affect your own views on philanthropy and giving your time to others?
My parents led by doing, not telling. My mother was not just writing checks; she was getting involved and understanding the organizations that we supported. Obviously, financial support helps, but connecting with the mission and the people was also important to her. My father is the same way. He loves to meet the folks behind the scenes and learn how they work. They both loved organizations that were close to the community; they felt that the gifts to those organizations were the most impactful.
Tell us about your time working for the Boys and Girls Club.
What I enjoyed about the Boys and Girls Club is that, like The Salvation Army and other great organizations, it doesn’t matter where you are from or who you worship. They will offer the same love and opportunities to anyone who walks through their door. I was CEO of the Boys and Girls Club for 12 years, but I had been working with them for over 30 years. I was in South Boston running an outreach program for middle school children, and after that, I started their club in Chelsea, Mass.
Were you always drawn to working with young people?
I think so. It’s all about giving your care and compassion for others, not just your money. When you invest your time helping kids, you’re not just helping them in the present. You’re helping their future as well. You’re helping them develop an understanding of themselves, and of their community.
What led you to join the “family business” and be part of the New England Patriots organization?
I loved working for the Boys and Girls Club, but it was always about looking for the next challenge. So, I went to work with the like-minded folks of the Patriots Foundation and their community service efforts, helping set up events like the annual New England Patriots Foundation Children’s Holiday Party with The Salvation Army.
Talk about the Kraft family’s own philanthropic mission and purpose.
In 2019, my father was awarded the Genesis prize at an event in Israel. The Genesis is like their version of the Nobel Peace Prize. The following year, my father used the prize money, as well as $30 million of his own, to create The Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism.
What can organizations like The Salvation Army do to help the mission of that foundation?
I think the most important thing about the Army is that they don’t see a Jewish person, a Christian person, a black, white, rich, poor, sober, or non-sober person. They just see a person who needs help and meets their need. The Salvation Army was founded on religion, but that doesn’t determine to whom they give a hand up. They still work in the same way, no matter what community they serve. Also, the fact that they’re honoring a Jewish person with their Others Award is quite welcoming.
What other Salvation Army projects have you been part of?
In August, I was part of the Army’s back-to-school backpack give away. It was incredible seeing 3,000 kids receiving school supplies. It gives them a sense of hope to have access to what they need to do well in school. I’ve also helped collect food drives for victims of hurricanes this year. It’s great to see the work that The Salvation Army does, from disaster relief to help with substance abuse. They give everyone the opportunity to succeed, no matter their situation; that’s what creates true equity and equality in society.
To learn more about the Kraft family and their philanthropy, visit https://www.thekraftgroup.com/philanthropy/