Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation supports institutions for education and entrepreneurship-related research, while individuals may qualify for scholarships, fellowships and other research awards. Postsecondary institutions may also receive support if their work aligns with the foundation's various K-12 efforts.

IP TAKE: Institutions with policy-oriented education research projects, or Ph.D. candidates and junior faculty members conducting research on entrepreneurship, may have success with this funder. Though its other programs focus more exclusively on Kansas City, Kauffman’s higher education funding casts a wider geographic net.

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. Aside from education, its main program area is Entrepreneurship.

Kauffman’s Education program “aims to provide young people the education required to pursue their dreams and become successful, productive citizens in Kansas City and beyond.” One of its goals is “postsecondary completion incentives for more students in the Kansas City area.” Sub-program areas in education include Early Childhood Education, Postsecondary Access and Completion, Teachers and Leaders, Innovation and Engagement, and Quality Schools. While the foundation prioritizes non-profits in the Kansas City Area, some universities in the Midwest have received support.

For individual academics, the foundation also supports higher education 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 guiding them through both high school and college with support from “program leaders, coaches, and collegiate, community, and corporate partners.” This program accepted its last cohort of students in 2012. However, Kauffman recently launched the KC Scholars program, which offers three types of scholarships: traditional, an award of $10,000 a year for five years, available to 11th-graders; adult learner, available to individuals aged 24 and up who have some college but no degree; and college savings match, available to 9th-graders, which provides a 4-to-1 match on contributions to a 529 savings account.

Grants typically range from $10,000 to $300,000. The foundation does not maintain a database of past grantees, 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.

It does not accept unsolicited proposals, except for when it posts open grant opportunities.

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