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.
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.
Promoting Racial Equity in the Medical Field
Like many cities, Kansas City's history includes dismal struggles with racial equity. At the turn of the century, African-American patients, doctors and nurses were restricted to providing and receiving medical treatment at Kansas City's General Hospital #2, a separate facility from General Hospital #1, which served only Caucasians.
Years later, General Hospital #2 merged with General Hospital #1 to become Truman Medical Center. Until that merger, General Hospital #2's School of Nursing operated for 46 years and graduated 715 students.
A group of nurses who attended the School of Nursing established the General Hospital #2 Perpetual Trust Fund in 1990 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. They share a mutual passion for providing scholarships to African-American students in Greater Kansas City who are attending accredited nursing programs.
Providing a Social Education
When Darcy Howe's children were 12 and 10, she and her husband, John Black, planted a seed of giving. Hoping to give the kids perspective on the world outside of their comfortable upbringing, they set up the Katie and Andrew Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 2000. "The idea was to put structure around our parenting on financial issues and the kids' social education," Darcy said.
Each year Katie and Andrew review the fund's returns and get involved by going on site visits to their favorite charities. Darcy says making a financial donation is only part of the fund's benefit. "It's not just about the money. The fund has had a ripple effect in getting the kids more involved in volunteer efforts. They're discovering which causes mean the most to them, like their support of Ronald McDonald House. This philanthropic self discovery is important for their future and the future of our community."
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."
Revitalizing the Heart of Kansas City
The Dickinson family's roots in the region run deep. Gary grew up on a family farm in northern Missouri and met Ann, from Hannibal, in college. Ann and Gary raised four children and pursued an active life of community involvement during their 30 years of marriage.
Gary founded Bank Midwest in the early 1970s and oversaw its impressive growth until he was tragically killed in a car accident two decades later. Ann continued Gary's legacy as chair and owner of Dickinson Financial Corporation, headquartered in Kansas City.
In 1998, Ann and her family established the Gary Dickinson Family Charitable Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to fulfill the family's wide range of charitable priorities. The Dickinsons are especially supportive of Kansas City’s downtown revitalization, a tribute to Gary's passion for local and regional economic development.
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."
Leading the Way to a Charitable Lifestyle
Don Chisholm was a talented lawyer at the firm of Stinson, Mag & Fizzell, now Stinson Leonard Street. His legacy to Kansas City reaches beyond his chosen profession, and his vision will be appreciated for generations to come.
A strong supporter of charitable giving and a mentee of the legendary Arthur Mag, Don introduced his clients to the benefits of contributing their estates to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to support their favorite charitable causes.
One of Don’s many claims to fame was drafting documents to establish the Jacob L. and Ella C. Loose Foundation, Kansas City’s first million-dollar charity. Don served on that foundation’s board for 41 years. When the idea for a community foundation was proposed, Don was there to help it along as a founding director, and in 1984 played a key role in establishing many of the funds added during that critical year.
During his lifetime, Don helped open new doors to charitable giving. Today, many attorneys, accountants and financial advisors follow his lead, and for several years, the Don Chisholm Memorial Fund recognized special professionals in their commitment to helping clients give back.
Scholarships for Urban Youth
The Kansas City Securities Association, an organization of more than 40 investment professionals in the Kansas City area, established the KCSA Education Endowment Fund in 1986 to provide financial support for tuition, special projects, needs or emergency assistance to students.
KCSA has awarded more than 200 college scholarships totaling an estimated $1.3 million to members of Kansas City's Marching Cobras, student athletes selected by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, student athletes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.
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."
A Century of Serving Poor and Needy Children
In the early years of the 20th century, Jacob Loose and his brother, Joseph, built the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, marketed as Sunshine Biscuits, into one of the nation's largest producers of cookies and crackers.
Following the deaths of their two infant children, Jacob and his wife, Ella, became passionate about supporting poor and needy children and families in Kansas City.
When Jacob passed away in 1923, his estate established the Jacob Loose Million Dollar Charity Fund Association. It was Kansas City's first $1 million foundation, and it was housed at the First National Bank. Then, the Jacob L. and Ella C. Loose Foundation Fund was established in 1989 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to carry out the work of the charitable trust.
From 1920 to 1940, this foundation provided thousands of children with pasteurized milk and ice. As children's needs evolve, the Loose Foundation, with assistance from the Community Foundation, adapts the foundation's grant making strategies to best meet the intent of the original donors.
Helping Needy Children in the Northland
In the mid-1930s, NeVada Linscomb, born to a German immigrant family, met Irven Linscomb. Irven, himself born into poverty in Texas, was working for the Chase Bag Company in Kansas City's River Market. Soon Irven and NeVada started their own company, building a successful business that thrived for many years.
It was in 1957 when Irven met Bill Zimmer and joined Zimmer Companies. "Irven was a man of integrity who took only calculated risks and yet was great fun to be with," Bill said.
After Irven died, NeVada opened the Irven E. and NeVada P. Linscomb Foundation Fund in 1988 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. A year later, Bill persuaded NeVada to set up a charitable trust to ensure that her charitable passions could be realized.
NeVada passed away eight years later, and through the Community Foundation the couple's legacy lives on. The Irven E. and NeVada P. Linscomb Foundation Fund supports services for children in the Northland, including "Miles of Smiles," a mobile dental program.
The Generosity of Many Does the Most Good
ImpactKC. That's the name of a group of professionals who are dedicated to encouraging young people in Kansas City to join together and make a difference in the community.
The team is made up of individuals who pool their money to make an impact. The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation is the behind-the-scenes support system for the ImpactKC Fund, established in 2004. This allows the group to focus on learning about the needs of our region and putting its dollars where they really count.
Each year ImpactKC reviews grant applications from nonprofit organizations and hosts meetings dedicated to expanding the membership's community knowledge and access to volunteer opportunities.
Setting aggressive annual goals to raise a significant amount of money for charitable causes enables ImpactKC to leverage the strength and power of a team, well beyond the sum of its individual parts, through fundraising, education and volunteering.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Strengthening Our Community, Investing In Its Future
Philanthropy was a new adventure to Helen Nelson in 1980, but she was committed to giving back to her community. Helen established a donor-advised fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to organize her philanthropy — and she loved every minute of it.
For nearly two decades Helen appreciated the expertise and research the Community Foundation provided about issues affecting Kansas City. She also enjoyed receiving updates on the impact of her grants. Helen was passionate about supporting downtown revitalization, education, accessible arts and medical research.
At her death, Helen bestowed a living legacy for Kansas City's future generations. Her generosity will live on through the Helen H. Nelson Fund, dedicated to fulfilling Helen's charitable dreams for Kansas City’s future.
Making Kansas City Better for the Next Generation
Dick and Sue Bond want to leave a legacy to future generations. But they want that legacy to be more than just money. They want to give the gift of giving. To make their charitable dream a reality, the former president of the Kansas Senate and his wife turned to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.
"We started by setting up the Dick and Sue Bond Family Foundation Fund in 1999," Dick said. "And then we set up a fund for our grandchildren. This will be more valuable to them than a direct inheritance." The Bonds' idea inspired the Community Foundation to expand its offerings to future generations of charitable givers. "Children and grandchildren can learn philanthropic values at any age," said Dick.