Welcome to the Kansas City Research Institute
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.
Lessons From A Love Story
Pete Levi's father, Kurt Levi, fled to America from Germany during Adolf Hitler's reign, leaving behind his sweetheart, Ruth, who would become his wife — and Pete's mother. Years later, sorting through his parents' belongings, Pete stumbled across dozens of beautifully composed letters, handwritten in German, from his father to his mother during the time they were apart.
Pete hired an expert to translate the letters. With each translation, Pete recognized that he had an historical treasure on his hands. Each letter offered a snapshot into daily life during a pivotal time in history, all wrapped up in a love story.
Pete established the Levi Family Foundation for the Study of Holocaust Archives Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Now others can experience history through the heartwarming correspondence between his parents all those years ago.
And to think that in 1995 the letters were sitting in a closet in Kurt's Plaza apartment in an old tattered box—the same box they had been in since 1938!
Doing More Than Just Wishing for Health and Happiness
The hopes and dreams behind every coin tossed into a fountain on the Country Club Plaza live on because the coins are donated to the Plaza Fountain Fund for Children's Mercy Hospital at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. It is a tradition that picked up momentum more than two decades ago.
"The Plaza had seven filling stations and Miller replaced them with fountains in 1985," said Jeannette Nichols, widow of Miller Nichols who founded the fund. "He didn't think too much about people putting coins into the fountains, but when they did he wanted to give the money to Children's Mercy Hospital. He always had a great affinity for it."
Miller Nichols hoped that these coins could provide seed money for an endowment for Children's Mercy Hospital, and he approached the Community Foundation confident that his wishes would be carried out beyond his lifetime. Indeed, the Plaza Fountain Fund will continue to memorialize the wishes of its founder.
Inspiring Gifts, Large and Small
Charmingly down to earth, Don and Adele Hall have long been known for their stellar reputation, which is synonymous with philanthropy. Arts organizations, hospitals, universities and countless nonprofits have benefited from their time and championship. In 1982, the couple established the Donald J. and Adele C. Hall Donor Advisory Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which is also the beneficiary of Don’s time and talent as a founder and Adele's service as board chair years later.
Don and his late wife, Adele, gave credit to their families for passing on philanthropic values. Together they created a giving philosophy: "One ounce of volunteer participation gives the management of a nonprofit the elbow grease and time to get the job done," Don said. "Even getting just a little involved in an organization that does good is exciting."
It’s impossible to quantify the total impact of the couple's philanthropy on Kansas City, including major commitments to the University of Kansas and Children’s Mercy Hospital. The Halls themselves never focused on the grand scale of what has been accomplished. They looked to the future. And so the list of projects blessed by Don and Adele continues to grow — one human investment at a time.
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