Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation gives higher ed grants to institutions for education and entrepreneurship-related research, and individuals can qualify for scholarships, fellowships and other research awards. Postsecondary institutions may also receive support if their work connects with the foundation's various K-12 efforts. Though its other programs focus more exclusively on Kansas City, Kauffman’s higher ed funding casts a wider geographic net.

IP TAKE: If your institution has a policy-oriented education research project, or if you're a Ph.D. candidate or junior faculty member conducting research on entrepreneurship, this just may be the funder for you.

PROFILE: The Kauffman Foundation, based in Kansas City, Missouri, was endowed by Ewing Marion Kauffman, a pharmaceutical executive and former owner of the Kansas City Royals baseball franchise. The foundation seeks to “help individuals attain economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success,” which it views as intrinsically interconnected.

Although this funder strives for national impact in its activities, the Kauffman Foundation maintains a strong commitment to its home city, and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the area over the last several years.

That said, the foundation’s funding for higher education affords grantseekers a wider geographic range than would be the case for, say, K-12 schools or districts.

One key area through which Kauffman’s support for higher ed is available is its Education program, which includes “postsecondary completion incentives for more students in the Kansas City area” as one of its goals. The foundation sometimes ties this goal with its K-12 education funding, such as by supporting the University of Missouri’s College Advising Corps, which partners local university and high school students to help prepare the latter with applying to and succeeding in college.

The other key area through which Kauffman supports higher education is its Research & Policy in Education program. In order to “help create the human capital necessary for an entrepreneurial economy,” Kauffman works through RPE to “support and conduct research on the intersection of technology, public policy, and the economics of education,” and to “focus on specific areas of public policy that affect Kauffman's education investments and the national movement toward higher-quality education.”

Many high-profile universities throughout the country have received grants to support research into these areas, particularly varying dimensions of the field of entrepreneurship. A large number of recent awards have funded research related to areas such as the relationship between entrepreneurship and specific groups (such as the baby boomer generation and women), the relationship between entrepreneurship and taxation and other forms of government intervention. Other funded projects are directed toward helping college students develop the entrepreneurial skills to succeed in the marketplace.

For individual academics, the foundation also supports higher ed through scholarships, fellowships, and awards for academic research. One of the foundation’s prominent in-house programs is Kauffman Scholars, Inc., which was set up “to help low-income, urban students in Kansas City” by helping them in both high school and college with support from “program leaders, coaches, and collegiate, community, and corporate partners.” Through its Kansas City Scholarships program, the foundation provided $1.5 million to 10 local organizations to help “low-income, minority, and/or first generation college students” to earn a degree.

Kauffman also supports individual scholars in three other ways. One key source of support is Kauffman’s Dissertation Fellowship Program, which gives up to 20 Ph.D. candidates up to $20,000 each for their work in researching and “writing dissertations in the area of entrepreneurship.” Another program, the Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research, awards a two-year grant of $35,000 to “ junior faculty members...who are beginning to establish a record of scholarship and exhibit the potential to make significant contributions to the body of research in the field of entrepreneurship.” Last, one awardee per year receives the Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship, which includes a $50,000 prize given to an early-stage “associate or full professor whose research has made a significant contribution” to the academic field of entrepreneurship.

The foundation doesn’t have a database of past grants, but its grants list identifies all awards (starting with the most recent and working backwards) and gives a brief overview of the funding project.

This funder does not have proposal deadlines or established funding limits, nor are there “established maximum or minimum dollar amounts,” as “grant amounts vary depending the scope of the specific project and the size of the organization.”

At the same time, it’s important to closely review the foundation’s website before applying, as the foundation states that some funding areas “may not accept unsolicited proposals.” You can also check the site for open grant opportunities.

PEOPLE

  • Aaron North, Vice President, Education
  • Corey Scholes, Director, Education

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