The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation was established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the United States with an asset base of approximately $2 billion.
Our vision is to foster "a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities." In service of this vision, we focus our grant making and operations on two areas—education and entrepreneurship—which our founder, Ewing Kauffman, saw as two ends of a continuum. A quality education is the foundation for self-sufficiency, preparing young people for success in college and in life. Many young adults will work in businesses started by entrepreneurs. Some will become entrepreneurs themselves, providing jobs and wealth for society.
Improving student outcomes
In the Foundation's K-12 education work, which is focused in the Kansas City area with an emphasis on the urban core, we strive to support a diverse group of schools that serve as proof points of high academic achievement among low-income youth, develop and fund programs that bring the best possible teachers to Kansas City schools, support outcomes-based programs that ready urban students for success in college and careers, and advance science, technology, engineering, and math education for students throughout our hometown.
This commitment to improving education is evident in the hands-on administration and significant financial support we provide to the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, a public college preparatory charter school opened in 2011; Kauffman Scholars, Inc., a multi-year college prep and scholarship program; Teach For America; the KC Stem Alliance; and more. The Foundation also participates in the Kansas City Education Funders Collaborative with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the Hall Family Foundation, and the H&R Block Foundation to leverage our collective resources to support schools that have demonstrated a commitment or potential to improve student achievement; and to increase the capacity of organizations whose mission is to develop great teachers and great schools.
Advancing entrepreneurial success
Though all major foundation donors were entrepreneurs, Ewing Kauffman was the first such donor to direct his foundation to support entrepreneurship, recognizing that his path to success could and should be achieved by many more people. The Foundation develops and generously supports numerous efforts that provide entrepreneurs the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to start and grow businesses. Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, for example, was specifically established as a teaching and training entity to accelerate the creation and success of new, scalable businesses. Other Foundation- run or -supported programs, including Kauffman FastTrac, Startup Weekend, entrepreneurship.org, 1 Million Cups, Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, and Global Scholars, contribute directly to achieving this objective. By providing access to education and disseminating practical, needed information, the Foundation helps individuals create their own roadmaps for entrepreneurial success.
We also support entrepreneurship networking programs for underserved populations, such as women and minorities, and for innovators in science and technology. We work to accelerate the early-stage startup process through our online networking and business competition site, iStart. And our networking support efforts go worldwide through programs such as Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Undergirding all of our work is an extensive research and policy program that is ultimately aimed at helping us develop effective programs and inform policy that will best advance entrepreneurship and education. To do so, our researchers must determine what we know, commit to finding the answers to what we don't, and then apply that knowledge to how we operate as a Foundation.
Kansas City was Ewing Kauffman's hometown and thus the Foundation is deeply committed to our community. In addition to our local education and entrepreneurship work, we support civic institutions and causes that are important to the Kansas City area. While rooted in our community, we also seek to make a national impact and have global reach.
The work we do would not be possible without our vast social network of grantees, partners, experts, and practitioners. We help cultivate these relationships by playing the role of convener, bringing together local, national, and world leaders to share innovative thinking and engage in dialog related to entrepreneurship and education. Each year, more than 60,000 people visit the Foundation's Conference Center, which provides 40,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space.