Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

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Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation logo.jpg
Founded 1966
Founder Ewing Marion Kauffman
Focus Entrepreneurship and education
Method Research and grant making
Key people
Wendy Guillies, President and CEO
Endowment US$2.0 billion
Website kauffman.org

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (Kauffman Foundation) is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, private foundation[2] based in Kansas City, Missouri.


The Kauffman Foundation's vision is to foster "a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities".[3] Its grant making and research activities are focused on two areas: advancing entrepreneurship and improving the education of children and youth.[citation needed] Established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, founder of Marion Laboratories, it is the largest American foundation to focus on entrepreneurship.[citation needed]

The Kauffman Foundation has an asset base of $2 billion[2][3] and distributed over $17 million in grants in 2013.[2]


The organization was established in 1966 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, founder of Marion Laboratories, who was affectionately known to some as simply "Mr. K."[4]

Carl Schramm retired as president at the end of 2011, at which point Benno C. Schmidt, Jr. served as interim President and CEO until 2013.[5] Tom McDonnell, long-time CEO of the Kansas City-based software development firm DST Systems (1984-2012),[6] was the foundation's president and CEO from January 2013-July 2014.[7] McDonnell was succeeded by Wendy Guilles, who became acting president and CEO as of July 1, 2014.[8]


Research and policy[edit]

The foundation's recurrent research outputs include the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, a leading indicator of new business creation in the United States, and the annual U.S. Small Business Friendliness Survey, produced in conjunction with Thumbtack.

In May 2012, the foundation published a report on the performance of venture capital, showing that VC returns haven't significantly outperformed the public market since the 1990s, and that "the average VC fund fails to return investor capital after fees".[9]

In 2009, with support from the Kauffman Foundation, professor Vivek Wadhwa conducted a study on the impact of foreign-born entrepreneurs and restrictive visa policies on the American economy, showing that in 25% of the U.S. science and technology companies founded from 1995 to 2005, the chief executive or lead technologist was foreign-born (the proportion is 52% in Silicon Valley), and that in 2005, these companies generated $52 billion in revenue and employed 450,000 workers.[10]


The Kauffman Foundation seeks to further understand the phenomenon of entrepreneurship, to advance entrepreneurship education and training efforts, to promote entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and to better facilitate the commercialization of new technologies by entrepreneurs and others, which show promise for improving the economic welfare of our nation.

Major Initiatives

  • The Kauffman Global Scholars Program fosters international entrepreneurship by immersing top young entrepreneurs from around the world in America's entrepreneurial culture.
  • The Kauffman Campuses initiative seeks to transform the way colleges and universities make entrepreneurship education available across their campuses, enabling any student, regardless of field of study, to access entrepreneurial training.
  • FastTrac is a practical, hands-on business development program designed to help entrepreneurs hone the skills needed to create, manage and grow a successful business.

The foundation originated the Kauffman Fellows Program for venture capitalists, promoting the growth of global innovation investment.


Ewing Kauffman believed that investments in education should lead students on a path to self-sufficiency, preparing them to hold good-paying jobs, raise their families, and become productive citizens. The youth education programs supported by the Kauffman Foundation focus on advancing student achievement in math, engineering, technology and science. The foundation's youth programs have a particular focus on improving academic achievement of disadvantaged children--- especially those in Kansas City's urban core. The foundation also hopes to introduce students to entrepreneurship and explore the future of learning.

Major Initiatives

  • FIRST Robotics has encouraged a record number of Kansas City area high school students to apply math and science principles to design, assemble, and test robots capable of performing specific tasks.
  • Hot Shot Business is an Internet simulation game that gives boys and girls the chance to run a business in Opportunity City at Disney.com.
  • Kauffman Labs Education Ventures Program provides education, mentoring, and real-world experiences to increase the potential for successfully founding education businesses.[11]
  • Kauffman Scholars is a multi-year, out of school program that supports the academic, social and emotional development of low-income students to increase their chances of post-secondary success.


The Kauffman Foundation believes more can be done to rapidly and efficiently commercialize innovations developed by university researchers. Foundation associates study the reasons the system is not more productive, work with universities, philanthropists, and industry to ensure greater output, and ultimately grow the number of university-based technologies that become breakthrough products and services.

Major Initiatives

  • The iBridge Network provides access to university research and innovations to industry representatives, entrepreneurs, and other universities' researchers.
  • StudentBusinesses.com was acquired from Campus Venture Network in 2009 to enhance Kauffman's suite of services to universities and business plan competitions.


  • In February 2011, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation partnered with TechStars. The Foundation provided Techstars with $200,000 in funding to build software utilized by the TechStars Network. This will go towards building and managing a unified application processing and tracking system for seed accelerator programs, dozens of which are part of TechStars Network.[12]


  1. ^ "Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Profile". LexisNexis Academic (database). 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  2. ^ a b c "Kauffman Foundation Grantmaker Record". Foundation Center Directory Online. 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  3. ^ a b "Foundation Overview". 
  4. ^ Mariotti, Steve (1 July 2013). "Me and 'Mr. K'-- How Meeting Ewing Marion Kauffman Changed My Life and the Future of Entrepreneurship Education". Huffington Post. 
  5. ^ http://www.kauffman.org/newsroom/carl-schramm-decides-to-step-down-as-kauffman-foundation-ceo.aspx
  6. ^ Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "Thomas A. McDonnell: Executive Profile]]". Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  7. ^ Bauters, Fred (14 May 2014). "Tom McDonnell to step down in June, leave Kauffman Foundation after 2014". Silicon Prairie News. 
  8. ^ Bannister, Megan (14 May 2014). "Wendy Guillies says Kauffman’s focus will be on KC, growing other metros". Silicon Prairie News. 
  9. ^ ""WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY… AND HE IS US" - Lessons from Twenty Years of the Kauffman Foundation’s Investments in Venture Capital Funds and The Triumph of Hope over Experience" (PDF). May 2012. 
  10. ^ Wadhwa, Vivek (2009). "Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs: An Underestimated American Resource". 
  11. ^ "Kauffman Labs Education Ventures Program". Kauffman Foundation. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  12. ^ TechStars and Kauffman Foundation Join Together to Provide Entrepreneurs Better Access to Seed Accelerators. (2011, February 16). Targeted News Service. Retrieved March 24, 2011, from General Interest Module. (Document ID: 2268716331).

In the media[edit]

External links[edit]