Established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo., and is among the largest private foundations in the United States with an asset base of approximately $2 billion.
The Foundation’s vision is to foster a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens in their communities. In service of this vision, we focus our grant making and operations on two areas—education and entrepreneurship—which our founder, Ewing Kauffman, saw as two ends of a continuum. A quality education is the foundation for self-sufficiency, preparing young people for success in college and in life. Many young adults will work in businesses started by entrepreneurs. Some will become entrepreneurs themselves, providing jobs and wealth for society.
On a bitterly cold day in January 1993, Ewing Marion Kauffman scheduled the launch of a new program for entrepreneurs -- FastTrac®. Mr. Kauffman was legendary in Kansas City. His company, Marion Merrell Dow, employed more than 3,000 people in high-paying jobs, he owned the Kansas City Royals baseball team, and, through his foundation, he helped families in disadvantaged areas get an education – even paying for college for many.
On the morning of FastTrac’s scheduled launch, nature
delivered a blow – one of the worst snowstorms in Kansas
City history. Mr. Kauffman’s staff debated whether to cancel
the event since people were being asked to stay off the roads and Mr. Kauffman himself was extremely ill. He, however, wanted to hold the event just in case someone did go to the trouble to get there. That day, 900 people showed up. Yes,
some came because it was sponsored by “Mr. K,” as he was affectionately called, but most came because they had
a hunger to learn how to start and grow businesses.
They wanted to invest in themselves even if it
meant braving the storm.
The Kansas City FastTrac® kickoff was one
of the last public appearances for
Mr. Kauffman, who passed away later that
year at the age of 76. He was grateful for
the opportunity to build his own company
and to share his abundance with others. He
loved entrepreneurs and all they stood for –
self-reliance, innovation, hard work, and
creating good-paying jobs and benefits.
He was proud that his foundation was