Our Founder

Ewing Marion Kauffman was an entrepreneur and humanitarian, whose innovative and long-lasting contributions have benefited millions of people in his hometown of Kansas City and beyond.

Ewing Marion Kauffman was born on a farm in Garden City, Missouri, in 1916. His family moved to Kansas City when he was a boy, and he called Kansas City home for the rest of his life. Following his service in the Navy during World War II, Ewing Kauffman began working as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company. In 1950, his innately entrepreneurial spirit led him to start his own pharmaceutical company in the basement of his home.

Mr. K's philosophies

  • Treat others as you want to be treated
  • Share life's rewards with those who make them possible
  • Give back to society

He named his company Marion Laboratories Inc., using his middle name rather than his last name so his customers wouldn’t perceive him as a one-man operation. In his first year in business, he had sales of $36,000 and a net profit of $1,000. When he sold his company to Merrell Dow in 1989, it had grown to become a global diversified health care giant with nearly $1 billion in sales and employing 3,400 associates.

Kauffman brought more to Kansas City than an international business. With his purchase of the Royals in 1968, he brought major league baseball back to his hometown, boosting civic pride and the city’s economy. With the same entrepreneurial vision he had always used as his guide, he made the Royals a model sports franchise. The team developed young players who won six division titles, two American League pennants, and a World Series championship in 1985.

Ewing Kauffman’s most enduring legacy to his community and the world is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He established the Foundation with the same sense of opportunity he brought to his business endeavors, and, with the same convictions. Kauffman wanted his foundation to be innovative—to dig deep and get at the roots of issues to fundamentally change outcomes in people’s lives. He wanted to help young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, get a quality education that would enable them to reach their full potential. He saw building enterprise as one of the most effective ways to realize individual promise and spur the economy.

Today the mission of the Kauffman Foundation mirrors Ewing Kauffman’s commitment to fostering both ends of the opportunity continuum: education and entrepreneurship.

I think the greatest satisfaction I have had, personally, is helping others, doing something that either inspires them or aids them to develop themselves in their future lives so they’ll not only be a better person but be a better productive citizen of the United States.
— Ewing Marion Kauffman