Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation was established in the mid-1960s by Ewing Marion Kauffman


The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation was established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the United States with an asset base of approximately $2 billion.

Their vision is to foster “a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.”


The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s main objectives are:

1. Identify opportunities where the application of the Foundation’s people, ideas, and capital can benefit society in significant and measurable ways.

2. Develop innovative, research-based programs leading to practical, sustainable solutions that are widely accepted and implemented.

3. Treat the Kansas City region as a program incubator where feasible, in which new approaches can be tried and tested before being disseminated nationally.

4. Partner with others to leverage our resources and capabilities while avoiding the creation of dependency.

Areas of Focus

The foundations’s areas of focus are entrepreneurship, education and research.

Entrepreneurship: entrepreneurship work is national in scale and global in reach. The foundation’s entrepreneurship strategy supports entrepreneurs in the U.S. by expanding signature education programs, notably Founders School, FastTrac, and 1 Million Cups, and investing in proven education models. They also foster startup communities and develop challenges to spur entrepreneurial activity in select metropolitan areas.

Education: The foundation invests in schools, programs, and research to support the development of teachers and leaders, quality public schools, and education innovations.

Research: Kauffman conducts and supports research that informs their own education programs and that educates policymakers and the public about pro-entrepreneurship policies at all levels of government. For research related to improving academic achievement, Kauffman focuses on Kansas City-area education issues and the development of a longitudinal database of student data from preschool through postsecondary.

The management team and founders

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 stayed in the city 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, Marion Laboratories, in the basement of his home that became very successful. He died in 1992.

Wendy Guillies is the present president and CEO of Kauffman Foundation.

Examples of types of organizations funded

As part of its new strategic plan, the Kauffman Foundation has awarded grants to nonprofit organizations that have exceptional track records in supporting entrepreneurs.

The Foundation has identified and invested in its first cohort of nonprofits that help entrepreneurs confront and overcome their key challenges. Strategic investments in these top organizations help their programs scale to serve more entrepreneurs.

The organizations were selected from a pool of more than 300 proposals from leading entrepreneurship programs in 47 states. They receive grants ranging from $330,000 to $500,000 each over two years. The eight grantees include organizations that serve a wide variety of sectors and demographic groups, from high-tech entrepreneurs to low-income individuals and groups that are under-represented in the world of entrepreneurship. Some of the organisations awarded are IDEA Village, Interise, MassChallenge and others.