Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
|Founder||Ewing Marion Kauffman|
|Focus||Entrepreneurship and education|
|Method||Research and grantmaking|
|Key people||Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., Interim President and CEO|
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (Kauffman Foundation) is a non-profit foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri.
It has an asset base of $2 billion. The Kauffman Foundation states that its vision is to foster "a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities". It focuses its grant making and operations on two areas: advancing entrepreneurship and improving the education of children and youth. Established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, founder of Marion Laboratories, the Kauffman Foundation is the largest American foundation to focus on entrepreneurship. Benno C. Schmidt, Jr. has served as interim President and CEO since former President Carl Schramm retired at the end of 2011.
In entrepreneurship, the foundation works nationwide to advance an entrepreneurial society in which job creation, innovation, and the economy prosper. Associates of the Kauffman Foundation work with educators, researchers, and other partners to understand the economic impact of entrepreneurship, train the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders, develop and disseminate programs that enhance entrepreneurial skills and abilities, and improve the environment in which entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
In education, the foundation works to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged children, particularly in Kansas City’s urban core. Associates of the foundation work with partners to support programs that directly impact a child’s academic achievement, with a concentrated focus on math, science, engineering and technology skills. Through a comprehensive ten-year initiative to significantly improve math and science education in Greater Kansas City, the Kauffman Foundation hopes to help create a national model for how to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and workers needed in the United States.
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.
- 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 also hopes to introduce students to entrepreneurship and explore the future of learning.
- 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.
- 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.
Research and policy
To develop effective programs and help inform policy that will best advance entrepreneurship and education, the Kauffman Foundation's research initiatives are designed to provide a broader and more in-depth understanding of what drives innovation and economic growth.
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".
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.
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.
- 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.
- "Foundation Overview".
- "Kauffman Labs Education Ventures Program". Kauffman Foundation. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "“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". May 2012.
- Wadhwa, Vivek (2009). "Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs: An Underestimated American Resource".
- 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).
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In the media
- Interview with Judith Cone, vice president of emerging strategies for the Kauffman Foundation, on The BusinessMakers Show January 24, 2009.
- Profile of Thomas Whitfield, Kauffman Global Scholar 2009