The Yawkey Foundations trace their origins back over eight decades to the philanthropic commitments of Tom and Jean Yawkey. With great concern for the forgotten and underserved, Tom and Jean Yawkey took careful steps to ensure that their legacy would live on through the work of the Yawkey Foundations. The Yawkeys were perhaps best known for their longtime ownership of the Boston Red Sox. More quietly, but with just as much passion and commitment, Tom and Jean Yawkey were also engaged in an unwavering dedication to those most in need.

The Yawkeys' commitment to philanthropy extended to many organizations throughout New England and Georgetown County, South Carolina. They were particularly interested in supporting organizations that encouraged educational opportunities, improved health care, enhanced human service programs, provided youth and amateur athletic opportunities, celebrated arts and cultural endeavors, and valued conservation efforts.

Tom and Jean Yawkey's philanthropic legacy was transformed with the 2002 sale of the Boston Red Sox, which added nearly $400 million in proceeds to Yawkey Foundations. As a result of Tom and Jean Yawkey's generosity, the Yawkey Foundations have awarded more than $500 million in grants to nonprofit organizations serving the people of New England and Georgetown, South Carolina since 1977.