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2023: Honoring legacies and celebrating new beginnings

Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace greets community member at the Kauffman Foundation Open House
Kauffman Foundation President and CEO Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace greeted close to 300 community members on nearly 100 feet of blue carpet during the Kauffman Foundation Open House event in Sept. 2023.

Kauffman Foundation breaks down the year in numbers, memories, and special moments.

Our founder Ewing Kauffman once said, “All the money in the world cannot solve problems unless we work together. And, if we work together, there is no problem in the world that can stop us.”

That quote was on the invitation to the Foundation’s “Rolling Out the Blue Carpet” event in September, held just one month after we welcomed our new president and CEO, Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace.

“As I shook hands with everyone on the blue carpet that evening, I was filled with optimism that Mr. Kauffman’s words were indeed true,” Burns-Wallace said. “Yet, we know as a grantmaking institution that dollars do matter, and we’re humbled by the continued responsibility of managing the Foundation’s endowment in ways that improve people’s lives.”

The Foundation’s spend through Nov. 20 this year was $113 million, with a forecasted total of $128.5 million by the end of the year. Major investments included payment on 390 grants, some of which received additional funding from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which allocated $500,000 to KC Uncornered, $2 million to the Real World Learning high school programs, $3.2 million to the Research and Entrepreneurship Federal Match Fund, and $8 million to Great Jobs KC.

“We spent a lot of time in community with our grantees this year, and their work to foster a community of economically empowered citizens is inspiring,” Dr. Burns-Wallace said. “Everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential – and to have financial stability while they strive for that. Working together with our amazing partners, advocates and innovators, we see a future where everyone – regardless of income, race, or zip code – has the support they need to reach for and achieve the goals they set for themselves.”

Below is a more detailed summary of our collective work in – and with – community throughout 2023.

Grants and scholarships

In 2023, the Foundation awarded 166 new grants and scholarships totaling $34 million. This included:

  • 70 program grants, totaling ~$33 million.
  • 96 sponsorship grants, totaling ~$700,000.

KC Credit Enhancement Fund

Three people pose for a photo at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Small Business Celebration: Fahteema Parrish, left, holds the "Mr. K Award" in her hands; Daniel Smith stands in the center; and Shakia Webb is to the right.
Fahteema Parrish, Daniel Smith, and Shakia Webb pose for a picture after the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Small Business Celebration in June where Webb facilitated a panel discussion on capital access.

The Kansas City Credit Enhancement Fund creates greater access to capital for small businesses in the Kansas City metro area by providing incentives for banks, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and other lending institutions to invest in businesses owned and operated by entrepreneurs in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, especially those who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

The Foundation awarded LOCUS Impact Investing $9 million in 2022 to administer and manage the KC Credit Enhancement Fund. As a community development financial institution (CDFI), LOCUS impacts community-led projects that support racial equity, small business growth, housing affordability, climate and resiliency, and healthy food access. It employs a community-centered approach that puts people first in pursuit of financial inclusion and prosperity for all.

In August 2023, the KC Credit Enhancement Fund welcomed new members to enhance access within Kansas City’s capital ecosystem. This included: Holy Rosary Credit Union, Community America Credit Union, and Commerce Bank.

ProX students stand on stage holding a life-sized check made out to Children's Mercy – Bridging the Gap for $2500.
The ProX student showcase culminated in awarding six student intern groups with cash prizes for presentations and exhibits related to their summer internship experiences.

ProX Summer

ProX is a regional collaborative that pairs Kansas City students with area businesses for paid professional work summer experiences. The program expanded this year to meet the outstanding demand from student applicants and employers.

  • 589 students participated in Summer 2023.
  • 130 employers partnered to provide internships and projects.
  • Students participated from 97 different schools, 10 school districts, and various charter schools.
  • Students were compensated with a $1,250 stipend and one school credit hour.
  • The majority of ProX participants surveyed (62%) said they plan to attend a four-year college after high school.

Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, joins Amplify 2023 via Zoom wearing an Amplify KC shirt.
Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace joins the 2023 Amplify conference via Zoom call.

Amplify: Empowering educators of color for student success

Amplify, a conference hosted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Amplify Community Advisory Committee, is now in its seventh year engaging and supporting educators of color in the Kansas City community.

  • Amplify hosted 350 attendees.
  • Four Kansas City schools each won $25,000 – a $10,000 DonorsChoose gift card and a $15,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation – to fund school projects.
  • EduTank winners included Hogan Preparatory Academy, North Kansas City High School, Brookside Charter School, and Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy.

Erika Noguera, Dr. Burns-Wallace, and Victoria Campbell Osborne at GEWKC
Erika Noguera, owner of Doña Fina Imports, left, and Victoria Campbell Osborne, co-founder and owner of The Scented Webb, right, joined Dr. Burns-Wallace at 1 Million Cups during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

In community

Kauffman Foundation associates and Dr. Burns-Wallace:

Around the Foundation

Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kauffman associates volunteer at Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.

Custom Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Air Jordan shoes
Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace in her custom Kauffman icon sneakers, created by One Pair KC, at the “Rolling Out the Blue Carpet” open house event in Sept. 2023.

Welcoming our new President and CEO

DeAngela Burns-Wallace, Ed.D., began her tenure as the Foundation’s new CEO and president on August 7, 2023. A native of Kansas City, Dr. Burns-Wallace brings to the Foundation a wide range of experience, including in the public sector, foreign affairs, and higher education.

“Growing up in Kansas City, the Kauffman family and the Foundation have always been an integral and everyday part of our community. I grew up seeing Mr. Kauffman in our community and knowing the impact and engagement of the Kauffman Foundation throughout the city. Over the years, as a professional engaging with the Foundation in various ways, I have developed an even greater appreciation of the deeply held values, rich legacy, and the community commitment that drive the mission of the Foundation to this day,” said Dr. Burns-Wallace. “I believe our communities are a source of strength, opportunity, and inspiration. The Foundation’s many tools can foster innovative approaches that create sustainable, systemic change. But that change must be done in partnership – with those we serve, those with whom we collaborate, and those who lead with us. I look forward to working closely with the Foundation’s associates, our community members, and grantees to impact lives and transform communities.”

In 2023, Dr. Burns-Wallace was inducted into the National Academy of Public Administration, named to Ingram’s Power 250, and included in Kansas City Magazine’s Power List: The 50 Most Powerful People in KC.

She’s also known for her style and loves to support local entrepreneurs in her fashion choices, which this year inculded:

KSI ribbon-cutting ceremony
Julia Irene Kauffman, chairman and CEO of Muriel McBrien Kauffman Family Foundation; Tanesha Ford, executive director of Kauffman Scholars, Inc., and Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, cut the ribbon during the KSI Legacy Wall unveiling event at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center on Sept. 21, 2023.

Living the legacy

This year we:

  • Celebrated the planned sunset of the Kauffman Scholars, Inc., program and the installation of Kauffman Scholars Legacy Wall in the Foundation Conference Center. At the event, Dr. Burns-Wallace said: “The Kauffman Scholars program spanned two decades to be a groundbreaking model across the nation. It would carry Mr. K’s dream to more than 90 higher ed institutions around the world and graduate more than 850 scholars who are transforming community to this day.”
  • Marked the 50th anniversary of Kauffman Stadium. Owners of the Kansas City Royals, Mr. and Mrs. Kauffman opened the Royals Stadium April 10, 1973. It was July 2, 1993 when Mr. Kauffman reluctantly agreed to the ballpark’s name change. Kauffman Stadium is the only stadium in the American League named in honor of a person.

Looking ahead to 2024

We are immensely grateful to (and for) the individuals, organizations, companies, institutions, and others with whom we have had the chance to learn, work, and invest in the Kansas City community. Even in a time of change, that is something we do not take for granted and never will.

The arrival of Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace as our CEO affords us an opportunity to assess all areas of what we do, how we do it, and who is responsible. We have undertaken preliminary activities in that assessment over the last several months and have had staffing and other transitions over the last year related to the ongoing calibration of our strategy and related grantmaking and programming. We anticipate additional changes over the coming year as we finalize our strategic plan, which includes an examination of our organizational structure and how it supports the work we are doing and plan to do. Those changes will be undertaken thoughtfully and intentionally.

We see 2024 as a year of “active transition” – a time when we will be learning and planning, while also engaging in grantmaking and fortifying connections with community. Our work over the coming year will continue to focus on:

  • Learning and listening with and from those with whom we work and who are most impacted by our decisions and what we do.
  • Planning and proceeding with a purposeful and public five-year strategy, intended to inform the best roles the Kauffman Foundation can and should fill as it works with and in communities in Kansas City.
  • Committing and supporting current and future grants that we see as relevant to the Kauffman Foundation’s future work, and the conclusion of work we have been proud to support even as we move in new directions.

The reputation and profile of Mr. Kauffman’s Foundation are always important to us as stewards of his legacy in Kansas City. The coming months will be a positive and necessary test of our organization’s character and commitment – even more than a test of its reputation. It is easy and tempting, especially for foundations like ours, to make slight variations to the same approaches. We believe we are at a moment of transformation that allows us to best pursue the ends for which this Foundation was created. We are meeting that moment with both humility and determination.

We will continue to communicate with you as we listen, learn, and act. The door will remain open to your outreach, feedback, questions, and encouragement.

Editor’s note: This article was updated Jan. 9, 2024.