James R. Kuse Family Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder awards grants in Oregon, especially the Greater Portland area, in the fields of children, education, medical research and community. Unsolicited requests are not accepted.

FUNDING AREAS: Children, education, medical research, community

IP TAKE: Annual grantmaking is quite limited with this funder. However, the family members work actively with nonprofits they support.  

PROFILE: The James R. Kuse Family Foundation is based in Portland, Oregon. James (Jim) Kuse was the founder, president, CEO, and chairman of the Georgia Gulf Corporation, a manufacturer of commodity and specialty chemicals. He went to high school in Portland and attended Oregon State University. His wife, Shirley Kuse, was born and raised in Portland. She became a medical technologist after attending the University of Oregon Medical School. The couple established a small family foundation in 1989 to continue their tradition of giving.

The foundation moved from Georgia to Oregon in 2005. Since inception, the funder has awarded over $9 million to organizations in Georgia, Oregon, California and Idaho. Most support is in the form of project or program support, but general operating support is occasionally provided, too. 

Top areas of interest for this funder are children, education, medical research and fostering dynamic communities. Annual giving ranges from $175,000 to $250,000. Most grants are between $5,000 and $30,000.

Recent education grantees include Jesuit High School, the Portland Public Schools Foundation, St. John Fisher School, and Rosemary Anderson High School. The foundation has made Community grants to the Blanchet House of Hospitality, Bridge Meadows, Lifeworks Northwest and Metro Arts. Grantees working in children’s needs include CASA for Children, the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the Harrington Family Foundation and the Oregon Ballet Theatre. Fewer grants go toward medical research, but the foundation supports the University of Oregon Foundation, Oregon Health and Science University, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, unsolicited grant applications are not accepted. Groups must be invited by one of the trustees to submit a proposal. The trustees are actively involved with the charities they support.

Potential grant recipients must submit a written grant request including the amount requested, a plan with measurable goals, an IRS letter, current financial statement and budget, and a list of the board of directors. Site visits are fairly common. Kuse also requires yearly reports for multi-year grants.

Both Kuse founders are deceased, but family members serve on the board of trustees. Carol Kuse Ehlen is the managing trustee, at carol@ehlenfamily.com. Other trustees are Lynn Kuse Ehret, Nicholas R. Ehlen, Kate E. Ehlen, MacGregor S. Ehlen, Henry W. Ehlen, and Allison R. Kuse. Their emails are listed on the website. The foundation’s phone number is 503-248-1141, and its mailing address is P.O. Box 8989, Portland, Oregon 97207.

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