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REGIONAL RESPONSE FUND

KANSAS CITY REGIONAL COVID-19 RESPONSE AND RECOVERY FUND

A group of foundations, corporations, organizations and individuals has joined together to respond to the urgent needs of Greater Kansas Citians in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Donor Stories

A CEO Who Left His Family's Company To Follow His Heart

Tom Bloch was CEO of H&R Block, the world’s largest tax-preparation firm, and the son of the company's founder. He was making $1 million a year, but something was missing. After much soul-searching, Tom resigned to become an inner-city math school teacher in Kansas City.

Then one night, Tom was surfing the Internet and became worried about the very low youth volunteer participation rate — a concern he shared with his wife, Mary. They transformed their worry into an effort to fuel student volunteerism. Together they founded the Youth Service Alliance of Greater Kansas City.

This is just one of the many charitable passions Tom and Mary have supported through the Thomas M. and Mary S. Bloch Philanthropic Fund, established in 1981 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. They enjoy helping all of their favorite charities — including universities, the arts, and their synagogue — in an organized and easy-to-manage way.

A rich history of giving back to the region

Arthur E. Stilwell founded Kansas City Southern in 1887 with a bold vision to provide a direct north-south rail route to the Gulf of Mexico, moving grain, coal, lumber and other minerals across a growing nation.

Considered to be eccentric during a time when other railroads adopted an east-west route, Stilwell pushed forward with his dream of the north-south rail line, undaunted by those who labeled his aspirations unrealistic. Stilwell's strategy—and Kansas City Southern—was an unqualified success.

For more than a century, the leaders and hard-working railroaders at Kansas City Southern have embraced Stilwell's tenacious ingenuity, making Kansas City Southern what it is today. Deeply committed to the community, the company established the Kansas City Southern Charitable Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 1993 and later launched a matching gifts program to encourage employees to experience the joys of charitable giving.

Double Play: Charitable move keeps Royals in Kansas City

Ewing Marion Kauffman loved baseball. He also was deeply committed to giving back. A carefully crafted estate plan reflected both of these passions. Ewing's gift of the Kansas City Royals baseball team created a regional benefit so compelling that it marked the first time in history that the Internal Revenue Service had approved a charitable deduction for the gift of a major league sports team. The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, in turn, helped 32 other donors establish funds to ensure the team's stability prior to its sale.

Reflecting his passion to help others, Ewing established the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in the late 1960s to advance education and entrepreneurship. In addition, the Ewing M. Kauffman Fund for Greater Kansas City and the Royals Fund were established at the Community Foundation. The Royals Fund received its last contribution in relation to the Royals succession plan in 1997.

Among Ewing's many legacies was his inspiration to other donors to think creatively about giving assets other than cash and marketable securities to their favorite charitable organizations. Whether the charitable gift is real estate, closely-held stock, or a baseball team, visionary donors and "alternative assets" are a winning combination for the community.

Passing on Charitable Values to the Next Generation

Mike and Karen Herman taught their children at a young age about the importance of helping others. Their approach was to lead by example, much like Mike's mentor at Marion Labs, Ewing Kauffman. Mike and Karen began talking with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 1985 about establishing the Herman Family Foundation Fund.

"I remember one day my corporate salary was published in the paper," Mike said. "Our 12-year-old came home and said, 'Dad! Are we millionaires?!' She wasn't aware of any wealth because we give our money to the community. We want to create our heaven on earth."

Over the years, in addition to giving financially, the Hermans have given their time and talent. Most notably, Mike served as president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Karen served as president of the Women's Foundation.

The Herman children enjoy volunteering and approach each donation as an investment. "Our children embrace that some of their inheritance will go to charity," Karen said. "And we're proud to see them give to the causes they care about."

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