Skip to content
Diverse people wearing face masks

Our response to immediate needs

Given the scale and need of the COVID-19 response and recovery, the Kauffman Foundation is committing up to $2.8 million to support our community.

I recently quoted Teddy Roosevelt in an overview of our Foundation’s response to COVID-19: “Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.”

We will stand by our grantees and commitments

  • Our grantmaking continues, and we are making grantee payments with minimal disruption.
  • We’re standing by our grantees and are ready to be flexible with grant agreements. Our associates are working through our portfolio of more than $75 million in current grants for 2020 to support our grantees. We know that their focus must be on their organizations and the people they serve.
  • We’re honoring all existing sponsorships, recognizing that events may get postponed. 

I also noted last week that we are working with our colleagues in other philanthropies to evaluate the government response to the crisis and see where our organizations can add value in supporting our communities across the nation.

Based on those discussions and given the scale and need of the response and recovery, we are focusing our philanthropic response in the Kansas City region and committing up to $2.8 million to support our community.

General community support

The Kauffman Foundation will provide $500,000 through its Public Affairs program to support the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The Fund’s initial focus will support program areas by addressing the urgent health and human service needs of families, students, and business owners. 

More details about the response and recovery fund can be found here.


During this pandemic and resulting economic recession, the Kansas City region’s small business community is extremely vulnerable, with many businesses at risk of closure. To assist some of our area’s most distressed businesses, the Foundation will grant $500,000 to AltCap’s KC COVID-19 Small Business Relief Loan Fund.

This grant will leverage funding from others in the community to allow AltCap, a Kansas City-based CDFI with a strong 15-year track record of loans to underserved populations, to offer 0% interest rate microloans with no collateral requirements and a deferred six-month payment structure to small businesses in the Kansas City metro area that have experienced economic injury during the pandemic response. These loans will provide businesses with the immediate liquidity necessary to weather the current pandemic and avoid laying off or furloughing staff.

And, we continue our support of KCSourceLink, which has provided additional resources for small business owners.  


We are working with SchoolSmartKC to designate up to $2 million of existing funds ($700,000 contributed by the Kauffman Foundation, with the remaining from the Hall Family Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation) to support district and charter schools, and nonprofit education support organizations within the Kansas City Public School district boundaries. SchoolSmartKC anticipates funds will focus on vulnerable students and families, teaching and instruction, systems planning, and needs that emerge during the coming months related to COVID-19 conditions.

More information about the funding can be found here.

To complement SchoolSmartKC’s work, the Kauffman Foundation will provide up to $500,000 in targeted grants to support the districts, schools, and support organizations outside of the Kansas City Public School boundaries, including districts in Cass, Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. Foundation staff is working with organizations in these districts to determine how to best deploy funds.

KC Civic

The Foundation’s KC Civic team invests in programs and initiatives that create supportive learning environments for youth and families as well as key institutions and organizations that drive cultural, social, and economic impact in Kansas City.

We know many organizations are struggling with new operational and program issues. The Kauffman Foundation is committing up to $600,000 to work with current KC Civic grantees that need additional support related to COVID-19.

Kauffman associates

The Kauffman Foundation has implemented a special associate matching gift fund in support of non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19. Specifically, the Foundation will provide a 6-to-1 match for donations up to $500 per associate to support 501(c)(3) public charities assisting with COVID-19 relief efforts, which may include community-based organizations that are on the front lines, such as local schools, homeless shelters, hospital foundations, or community food banks.

Our long-term strategies

Despite our work in the immediate term, I want to emphasize that the Kauffman Foundation remains committed to our long-term grantmaking approach and strategies.

The funding we provide in our region’s most disinvested areas will continue as we seek to help individuals build wealth and close gaps identified by race and economic status. These programs range from vital early education and after-school programs, to college success programs, to local entrepreneur support organizations.

Furthermore, we will continue our national work by strengthening policies, practices, and tools that support new businesses and our communities.

To support immediate needs, we have published a guide to Small Business Administration (SBA) lending and we are promoting the COVID-19 Business Resources Center, developed by Hello Alice, which is updated daily with funding opportunities, resources, and information for small business owners.

We will also continue our work to develop actionable research and promote policies highlighted in America’s New Business Plan to strengthen entrepreneurship. And, of course, we’ll continue to share lessons learned and engage others to create inclusive prosperity, workforce readiness, and entrepreneur-focused economic development through stories and insights.

We believe our long-term strategy is a pathway to a stronger and more inclusive community-based economy. Even in these turbulent times, we must and will continue that work.