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Kauffman Foundation

Kauffman Foundation

Kauffman Foundation is a Kansas City, Missouri-based philanthropic foundation founded in 1966 by Ewing Kauffman.


Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is an independent non-profit private foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri. Established in 1966, the foundation aims to have an impact by working with communities around the country to create opportunities and connect people to the tools they need to shape their futures and be successful. The assets of the foundation are managed by the board of trustees.

Foundation's activity

The foundation shares stories to express the essential roles of education and entrepreneurship in empowering people to shape their futures, create community, and grow an economy with an opportunity to be inclusive. The assets held by the foundation are used to collaboratively help people become self-sufficient and productive, both for their own successes and for the growth of the communities. This includes grant making and research activities focused on advancing entrepreneurship, improving education, and supporting civic development in Kansas City.


With the foundation's expressed interest in supporting entrepreneurship, the foundation works with entrepreneurs to give them tools and resources to help them grow their businesses. And the foundation, in its stated belief that too many people are left out of the economy, works with those communities to help develop entrepreneurial spirit. The foundation's activities focus on a variety of areas:

  • The development of entrepreneurial ecosystems to help strengthen communities and their local economies
  • New entrepreneurial learning activities to create a community of entrepreneurs who can help each other with connections, tools, and support
  • Entrepreneur support organizations, where the foundation uses its grant making to benefit entrepreneurs and ensure they have equitable access to resources
  • Research and policy, where the foundation works to impact policy to make starting a business easier, and to create actionable insights and practical tools for entrepreneurs

The foundation's education strategy aims for all students of all ages in Kansas City to be prepared for learning, work, and life after graduation. This includes helping develop those students into adults who can be economically independent and contributing members of their communities. The foundation measures its activities in education by closing academic performance gaps between Kansas City and the state—including increasing kindergarten readiness, K-12 proficiency, and post-secondary completion rates. The focus of the the foundation's activities in education are post-secondary, K-12, early childhood education, teachers and leaders, and community engagement.

Kansas City civic focus

Based on founder Ewing Kauffman's interest in enhancing civic pride in Kansas City and propelling the city forward, the Kauffman Foundation works along with the community to invest in programs and initiatives to create and develop civic pride. This has included investments in programs and initiatives to create supportive learning environments for youth and family and investments in institutions and organizations that work to eliminate barriers for people to participate and develop the culture, social engagement, and economy of Kansas City.

The key focus areas of the foundation's civic activities include continuing education for historically disinvested communities in the city; supporting institutions that support the cultural, social, learning, and economic well being of Kansas City; and supporting communities and the work they participate in to solve issues in the city, including activities such as data analysis, increased collaboration, targeted interventions, and nonprofit effectiveness.

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Campus

The foundation has a campus for its activities, which is comprised of the Foundation offices, a conference center, a memorial garden, and a legacy park. The conference center hosts around 75,000 visitors a year for various events. The memorial garden, officially named the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden, is intended to be a place of peace and tranquility while doubling as the final resting place of Ewing and Muriel Kauffman. And the Legacy Park is a nature reserve with walking paths and serves as an annual stop for Canada geese on their migration.

The foundation decided to build the campus in 1995, after a decade at a leased office space. This new campus was built on an undeveloped 37-acre tract of land previously owned by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The official groundbreaking ceremony for the campus was held on March 6, 1997. The stated goal to build the campus was to create a home for the foundation that can offer places for the employees to spend time outside and connect with the community. As well, the goal was to offer a place for the community of Kansas City to meet and collaborate. This also offers a space for other nonprofit organizations to meet and work.


The foundation was founded by the entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, in order to eliminate barriers faced by people and allow them to take risks, achieve success, and give back to their communities. The foundation is based in Kansas City and has around $2 million in assets.

Previous to the foundation, Ewing Kauffman founded the drug company Marion Laboratories. During his life, Ewing Kauffman was reportedly known for energizing people around him and challenging those people around him to do more. The foundation was founded with this spirit in mind and to help people achieve more and help the community of Kansas City grow.


August 16, 2021
Diverse Business Accelerator receives $300,000 grant from Kauffman Foundation.
August 2, 2021
Kauffman Foundation adds three prominent Kansas City business leaders - Karen Daniel, Anita Newton, and Paul Schofer - to board
February 22, 2021
UMKC and Kauffman Foundation launch entrepreneurial grant program
September 10, 2020
Kauffman Foundation grant will help Iowa JPEC train entrepreneurship educators
August 10, 2020
Kauffman Foundation's Skilled KC tackles local talent shortage
March 31, 2020
Kauffman Foundation commits $2.8 million to COVID-19 community response efforts in Kansas City.
October 21, 2019
Kauffman Foundation leads coalition to jumpstart flat startup growth
June 19, 2019
Kauffman Foundation's Erin Jenkins bounces between contrasting cultures, startup life
February 26, 2019
Former ECJC exec Melissa Roberts joins Kauffman grant making team
March 22, 2018
Kauffman Foundation announces $2.9 Million in funding to study entrepreneurial ecosystems.


Further Resources


New Changemaking Strategy Energizes Real World Learning In Kansas City

Tom Vander Ark


April 3, 2021

Purpose At Work: How The Kauffman Foundation Scales Entrepreneurship And Opportunity

Simon Mainwaring


May 20, 2020


Walter Thompson
September 10, 2021
There are abusive corporations, and we do need a better social safety net so that people aren't at the mercy of the doctrine of shareholder primacy, but that truth disguises a more complicated reality.
Annie Siebert
February 26, 2021
Research shows that diverse teams, companies and founders pay, so why are all of the VC home runs from white men, or Asian men in Asia, plus a few Asian men in the U.S.?
Jonathan Shieber
June 16, 2020
Recognizing the need for a more diverse venture capital industry, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is looking to take steps to train its most diverse class of would-be investors and is adding to its board to foreground diversity and inclusion going forward, the non-profit said today. A longtime resource for startup founders and the venture [...]


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