Kaiser Family Foundation

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Kaiser Family Foundation
Founder Henry J. Kaiser
Type NGO
Legal status Foundation
Purpose Health care, Health policy
Website kff.org

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), or just Kaiser Family Foundation, is a U.S.-based non-profit, non-partisan, private operating foundation headquartered in Menlo Park, California. It focuses on major health care issues facing the nation, as well as U.S. role in global health policy. The Foundation states that it is a "non-partisan source of facts and analysis for policymakers, the media, the health care community, and the general public."[1]


The Foundation was established in 1948 by Henry J. Kaiser. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) was originally set up in Oakland, California, the same city in which Kaiser Permanente's headquarters were located. Later, the KFF moved to its current location in Menlo Park, about 50 miles away from Oakland.

When Mr. Kaiser died in 1967, his second wife, Ale Chester, inherited half of his estate, and the other half went to the KFF. Ale sold all of her holdings, moved far away, and remarried. Mr. Kaiser's children received very little direct inheritance; but did receive authority to run the Kaiser Industries businesses, and the Kaiser Family Foundation.[citation needed]

In 1977, the conglomerate of disparate Kaiser Industries organizations split apart. The Kaiser Family Foundation was initially a major owner of these shares: at the time of dissolution, the Foundation owned 32 percent according to Fortune Magazine.[2]

By 1985, the foundation no longer had an ownership stake in the Kaiser companies; therefore, it is no longer associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries. Mr. Kaiser's descendants did not retain seats on Kaiser Industries' board of directors, either; but, they have remained active through the Kaiser Family Foundation.[3]

Starting in 1990, KFF CEO Drew Altman directed "a complete overhaul of the Foundation's mission and operating style." Altman changed a "sleepy grant-making organization" (some $30 million a year interest on the $400 million endowment), into a primary-news source organization.[4] KFF has progressed from funding public opinion polls (in cooperation with Harvard University and The Washington Post); to bestowing awards to reporters for their work in healthcare-related news; to funding reporters with KFF "fellowships;" to hiring many reporters to operated the KFF's Kaiser Health News.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has funded professorial chairs at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins University, named the Henry J. Kaiser Professorships.[citation needed]

Current activities[edit]

Policy analysis and research[edit]

The Foundation publishes research and analysis of health-care issues, and states that much of its research especially concerns persons with low income or those who are otherwise especially vulnerable to health-care cost, such as the uninsured, those with chronic illnesses, or Medicaid/Medicare recipients.[5] For example, KFF formed the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU) in 1991.

The U.S. Global Health Policy online gateway, which includes original research, news summaries and key facts and background information, is supported in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Kaiser is well known for public opinion research, documenting the views and experiences of the public on health and related issues – often in partnership with major news organizations, such as The Washington Post. Another prominent Kaiser research effort examines the role of media on the lives of young people.[6]

Health news and information[edit]

Kaiser both provides health policy news and information and assists working journalists to improve the coverage of health in the media.

Through Kaiser Health News, a non-profit news organization dedicated to coverage of health care policy and politics, the Foundation provides coverage of health policy issues and developments at the federal and state levels in the health care marketplace and health care delivery system.

In 1993, Kaiser started a fellowship program for journalists.[6]

Public health information campaigns[edit]

Kaiser develops and helps run public health information campaigns in the U.S. and around the world focusing on HIV/AIDS, with an emphasis on reaching young people. Through direct partnerships with major media companies, these multi-platform communications reach tens of millions of people annually. Current partners in the U.S. include MTV, BET, Univision, and Fox.

It won a Peabody Award in 2003 for Know HIV/AIDS and Fight for Your Rights: Protect Yourself Campaigns.[7] Kaiser also plays a role in the Black AIDS Media Partnership, a partnership among major U.S. media companies to address the AIDS crisis facing Black Americans.

As the Secretariat to the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI), Kaiser has helped launch five broadcast media initiatives around the world in Africa, Asia, Russia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The GMAI involves more than 300 broadcasters working together to respond to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.[8]

Kaiser has also maintained a long-running program in South Africa to help South Africans establish a more equitable national health system and build a successful democracy. The program currently focuses on the devastating HIV epidemic in South Africa.[6]

The foundation is a major supporter of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.[9] In 2007, the foundation began a Web site relating to the health issues in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.[10]


  1. ^ About Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation web site (retrieved March 22, 2010).
  2. ^ "The Kaisers and Their Empire". Fortune Magazine. February 1977. 
  3. ^ Donna K.H. Walters (August 4, 1985). "An Empire Fades Away, But Its Legacy Lingers On; Final Chapter Is Being Written for What Once Was West's Greatest Industrial Power". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ Ramono, Lois (2009). "Health Care? He's got it covered". Washington Post.  ("Altman concluded it would have to trade in information - not money.")
  5. ^ Kaiser Family Foundation: Policy Analysis and Research, KFF web site (retrieved March 22, 2010).
  6. ^ a b c Kaiser Family Foundation Website, October, 2007
  7. ^ 63rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2004.
  8. ^ GMAI Membership List, February, 2010
  9. ^ Brennen Jensen (February 22, 2007). "'Winging It' for World Peace; Additional donors and a knack for teamwork have helped Ted Turner's U.N. charity thrive". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  10. ^ Sam Kean (August 9, 2007). "Election-Related Web Sites Hope to Inform Debate". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 

External links[edit]