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Donor Stories

A Legacy of Listening and Building Together

"Do justice; love mercy; and walk humbly with your God," Beth Smith learned as a child. Both parents and grandparents (Lithuanian immigrants) were observant adherents to Judaism. "I wasn't born with a silver spoon but a community spoon in my mouth," Beth mused.

Ed Smith, one of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation's seven founders, and his wife, Beth, were for many years one of Kansas City's dynamic duos. Beth was influenced by the bright and charismatic Marjorie Powell Allen, also a founder of the Community Foundation. They worked together to establish the Central Exchange, an interracial and intergenerational venue where women "could pick up the check." And in 1979, Ed and Beth established the Edward A. and Beth K. Smith Philanthropic Fund.

During her lifetime, Beth considered her forte to be "drawing strength and wisdom from others; listening and building together." And that is the spirit of the Women's Employment Network Fund — also housed at the Community Foundation — one of the many legacies Beth has given to Kansas City.

Our Community Comes Full Circle

In 1983, a grant from the Hall Family Foundation helped establish the Hispanic Development Fund to build an endowment for programs that foster expression of Hispanic culture and improve the quality of life for Hispanic families in Greater Kansas City.

One year later, the Hispanic Development Fund created a scholarship fund for students of Hispanic descent who are pursuing a college education. Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than 4,000 scholarships, totaling more than $3 million.

"The Hispanic Development Fund's Scholarship Program continues to be one of the few local scholarship programs in the country that consistently award more than 80 scholarships each year," said Ramon Murguia, Hispanic Development Fund Board Chair. "We are proud that our scholarship fund has contributed to the success of many, and we plan to continue investing in our community’s future by providing support for education."

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."

Fulfilling Dreams Through Charitable Giving

Our founders believed that philanthropy is the opportunity and responsibility of everyone, not just a few. Having begun in 1978 with just seven people and a couple hundred dollars, the Foundation has grown to more than $3 billion in assets, spread among more than 3,500 funds dedicated to the causes that are important to the individuals, families and businesses who established them.

Now in the top 1 percent of community foundations in the country, and with over $3 billion in grants distributed since inception, the Community Foundation works side by side with Kansas City's donors to fulfill community dreams through the power of giving.

"Thirty years of charitable giving is truly a milestone to celebrate," said Tom Bloch, past chair of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation's board of directors. "We are grateful to our donors for their deep commitment to improving our region's quality of life. It's what the Community Foundation is all about: more giving, smarter investments, a better Kansas City."

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