(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Dec. 29, 2015 – The Kauffman Foundation is recalling the programs and research that had the most impact this year. The highlights show that 2015 has been a transformative year for the Foundation’s leadership and its efforts to broaden its reach and sharpen its focus on education and entrepreneurship. The year-in-review lists key program initiatives, content and research, and grants of more than $72 million to 431 not-for-profit organizations in Kansas City and around the country.
"While we assess the impact of our projects and initiatives continuously, it's important to step back and look at the big picture at the end of the year," said Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. "We want to make sure we are making the kind of impact our founder intended. This year has set us on good footing for starting strong in 2016."
Here are highlights of the Foundation's most significant actions in 2015.
After more than a year conducting a rigorous national search, the Foundation's board of directors named Wendy Guillies president and CEO. Guillies was acting CEO during the search and a veteran Foundation leader with more than 15 years.
The Kauffman Foundation produced a new ninety-second video offering an overview of the Foundation’s commitment to develop people to their fullest potential as they pursue education and entrepreneurship. "Words to Give By," featured remarks by Ewing Kauffman that provide inspiration and insights for the work of the Kauffman Foundation today.
The Foundation broadened the scope of its education work in 2015 by investing a total of $35.2 million to fund new education initiatives, while continuing work with its legacy programs:
City Year Kansas City, was introduced to Kansas City to provide tutoring and school-wide initiatives to increase academic achievement and student engagement.
EdWise, the Foundation's proprietary online database was unveiled to help parents, educators, school districts, and policymakers better understand the educational landscape and make education decisions.
Kansas City Teacher Residency program, was created to pair accomplished mentor teachers with students seeking a master's degree in education and provide the students with extensive hands-on experience to complement their course work. Its goal is to develop and retain high-quality, diverse teachers who will excel at educating students in the urban core.
The Foundation's legacy education programs celebrated a landmark year with more than 60 Kauffman Scholars graduating from college in 2015, the Ewing Marion Kauffman School being named the Missouri Charter School of the Year, and the Foundation's Individual Schools Grants Program, providing $1 million in grants to both public and private schools.
The Foundation's work to accelerate new business formation included these initiatives.
The Foundation's weekly 1 Million Cups program expanded into 17 new communities in 2015, bringing the total to 77 communities in 35 states and one U.S. territory.
The Foundation launched the first-ever One in a Million national pitch competition for entrepreneurs who presented their startup concepts at one of the country's 1 Million Cups communities, culminating in an exciting grand finale during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The Foundation awarded $3.8 million to accelerate the expansion of eight U.S. organizations that have exceptional track records in supporting entrepreneurs, and it awarded another $1 million to outstanding Kansas City-based support organizations later in the year.
The Foundation's research in 2015 informed its own programs and helped educate others about policies that foster entrepreneurship at all levels of government.
The popular annual Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship was expanded into a series to offer a "big tent" approach to analyzing entrepreneurship from many angles. The comprehensive series now consists of the Kauffman Index: Startup Activity and the Kauffman Index: Main Street Entrepreneurship. The accompanying interactive data has generated nearly 90,000 views this year.
The Growthology.org blog amped up content this year, generating 157 posts about the links between entrepreneurship, economic welfare and economic growth. Readership has surged to 119,000 page views. Organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Center for Policy Analysis are fans, and news outlets, including the Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal have picked up on the topics as story ideas.
The third annual Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship brought together mayors and leading policy experts from around the country to discuss "Recipes for Growth," which focused on how to build a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.