Ruth Bigus: [00:00:00] This is Casey cares. Kansas city’s nonprofit voice produced by charitable communications will tell the stories of Kansas city nonprofits and the people behind them. He’s cares is proudly sponsored by the new Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation. I’m Ruth .
Bobby Keys: [00:00:19] I am Bobby keys
Ruth Bigus: [00:00:20] and nothing like flubbing it up.
When you have the main man, the main man here as our guest,
Bobby Keys: [00:00:27] one job,
Ruth Bigus: [00:00:28] he had one job. I flubbed it up. We are referring to, of course, Larry Jacob, who’s vice president of public affairs at the Ewing Marion Hoffman foundation.
Larry Jacobs: [00:00:39] I got it right.
Ruth Bigus: [00:00:42] Welcome. This has been like a marathon. He’s so busy. To get you here.
We’re like honored. We’ll have to like take a bazillion pictures in case this doesn’t happen again.
Larry Jacobs: [00:00:52] I’m sure it will for a, for
Ruth Bigus: [00:00:53] a long time. So welcome. state Casey cares and we want to dig into what you are charged with at the Kauffman foundation.
Larry Jacobs: [00:01:04] so. It’s one of those weird titles, right? What does public affairs mean?
But really it reflects back to Mr. Kaufman and thinking through something he said, I’m going to paraphrase, but basically all the money in the world can’t solve problems. But working together, there’s no problem that we can’t solve. So public affairs is charged with getting more people to understand the types of work that we’re doing to engage them in that work and hopefully take some action and some positive actions to help others become successful in their lives.
So that’s really, that’s really the focus of our job. That means communications. That means helping with events. That means convenings. That means pulling people and resources from around the country to help us here in Kansas city. Understand our context.
Bobby Keys: [00:01:44] So you’re kind of like a Jack of all trades anyway.
Larry Jacobs: [00:01:46] So we support all of the programmatic areas of the foundation. We dig deeply into Kansas city as well. we help tell the foundations stories and we help tell the stories of entrepreneurs, of students, of teachers and others. And that’s really our focus. So
Bobby Keys: [00:02:01] for a lot of people who don’t know, you know, listening for the first time and they don’t know exactly, you know, what the Kauffman foundation does.
You were just talking about entrepreneurs in education. Can you kind of give them just a brief overview like, this is, this is our goal.
Larry Jacobs: [00:02:11] Yeah, absolutely. Like we are, we see our job is working with communities and education and entrepreneurship to help people increase the opportunities that allow them to take more risks that allow them to learn and ultimately define success in their own way.
Right. And give back. And that’s, you know, the easiest way to say our mission based off of mr Kauffman’s intent
Ruth Bigus: [00:02:32] programmatic areas. Let’s dive in a little bit there. You know, entrepreneurship I think is a huge nugget. Somebody had mentioned to us at one point in time when we were talking about the radio show and what we’re trying to do in the nonprofit community.
Well, you’re entrepreneurs and we both looked at each other and went, we are, I guess we are. If you can bring that down a little bit.
Larry Jacobs: [00:02:54] Sure, yeah. You know, entrepreneurship, especially in national media, you know, it’s very focused on those high growth tech firms and venture capital and things that aren’t particularly relevant to most people’s lives.
You know, only 0.5% of all new businesses get venture capital. Wow. Maybe 5% but you feel like it’s everywhere. Yeah. So really our role at the foundation is to help somebody who has an idea. Who wants to do something, start something. Give them the tools and the resources and the connections so that they’re able to do that.
Break down barriers along the way to help them do that. And that means policy. It means research, but also means supporting programs that are very localized. That help entrepreneurs, things like KC source link that can help you navigate a complicated system here in Kansas city.
Bobby Keys: [00:03:42] Now, does it all have to be, maybe I missed this, does it have to be nonprofit or does it have to be something that’s more community oriented or cause marketing or cause oriented?
Larry Jacobs: [00:03:51] No, actually, entrepreneurship, we take in the broadest form that can be for-profit, nonprofits, social mission or not. if you’re developing a, you know, workforce, if you’re supporting others, that’s really, you know, that’s really part of the entrepreneurship programming.
Ruth Bigus: [00:04:07] And on the education side. I know we had Corey skulls on the show earlier this year and all that you’re doing there.
How do you. Choose what to do. There’s so many things out there and so many people with needs. So how do you cut that down?
Larry Jacobs: [00:04:24] Well, it all goes back to mr Kauffman’s intent and you know, basically it comes down to this, he saw people are born, you get skills throughout life to take a maker job and then give back to your community, right?
So along that continuum. Where can we have an impact as a foundation? And we do work nationally. We do work regionally, and we do work very localized here in Kansas city. And we think that all of those things feed each other and help support each other. So choosing is based off of what’s the, what’s the best, you know, situation for our community.
What’s the best way for us to intervene with funding that might stimulate some other thought? You know, we give away a lot of money, but the money is not really what drives change. You know, so in education that’s particularly true. There’s a lot to do in early education. There’s a lot to do in the K-12 system.
There’s a lot to do in ensuring higher education access and success and different pathways that students may choose along the way. Supporting teachers. All of that is part of our, our education portfolio. It’s, it’s comprehensive because you can’t just piece apart different elements of it. It all really does work together.
Ruth Bigus: [00:05:31] You do help an awful lot of nonprofits, including us. Thank you. How does a nonprofit. Take that first step and look to see whether the Kauffman foundation is an organization that can help them. Yeah.
Larry Jacobs: [00:05:46] that’s great. Like the first place to go is our website, kaufman.org. there is a section on there about how to work with us and it will give you examples of what we fund, why we fund the strategies that we’re deploying in education entrepreneurship, and in Kansas city and pathways that may make sense for your nonprofit.
There are things we don’t fund. We don’t fund capital. campaigns, for example, we can’t fund anything that’s direct advocacy, lobbying. So we don’t do anything that crosses a line there outside of education for lawmakers and policymakers. So, you know, there’s kind of a do’s and don’ts list of things we fund right on our website.
And that’s probably the best place to start.
Ruth Bigus: [00:06:23] And you have all kinds of programs too. We do that people can take advantage of. Can you name some of those that folks might kind of tune into? Look for?
Larry Jacobs: [00:06:32] You know, we, we play a little bit behind the scenes role on a lot of these things. But to answer your question about entrepreneurs, there is a group that meets every Wednesday called 1 million cups.
One millions cups was actually launched in. The Kansas city? Well, yeah, and even more in the cafeteria, the coffin foundation where entrepreneurs and staff were just getting together to figure out how can we better support each other and develop something. Out of that came a process where for those that aren’t familiar with 1 million cups, they meet every Wednesday morning.
There’s a, there’s a crowd. There were a couple of presenters that talk about their idea, what they’re trying to do and get feedback from judges. So it’s kind of like, Ooh, like a nice shark tank one that like really helps just to answer questions and clarification. Then the audience ways in what we’ve found now, you know, it started here in Kansas city.
It’s in 183 communities nationwide now, so started here and started here in Kansas city. In the cafeteria. Yeah, with coffee. Yeah. Another thing that started here as global entrepreneurship week. So that also started a week in November. Here it’s in 160 countries around the world now. And for a full week, you know, everything from governmental entities down to grassroots organizations focus in on how do you help people start things so that they can either create wealth for themselves, create wealth for themselves and others, and what barriers are in the way, you know, when we’re looking at a Kansas city or we’re looking at most of America, they’re historic.
Racial systematic barriers that are in the way of getting that credit card or getting that bank loan or getting any of those resources, or on a more practical level, it’s just connections. No, you know what? What high school did you go to? Well, that opens up doors, right? College did you go to? Well, that opens up doors, so if you don’t have those connections.
Into, you know, places that can help you grow or start a business. It makes it really difficult. And those are the types of things that we’re trying to unpack and knock down those barriers.
Bobby Keys: [00:08:29] That’s pretty, I love that because it, you know, it kind of speaks to a lot of what’s happening today with the wealth disparity, right?
You know, you have a bunch of people who are, you know, like you said. Bigger organizations on the grassroots and we’re all kind of sharing is that there you see that that’s more of a sustainable model or more of a working model for a community as a whole? Like having.
Larry Jacobs: [00:08:51] Yeah. It has to be. you know, when you look at a region like Kansas city, you know, for us to be competitive for the next 20, 30, 40 years, we can no longer afford to leave untapped assets on the table.
And that’s people. And that’s our businesses. So, you know, I think there’s a balance here. You know, we do need to try to draw in talent from other places of the country. We do need to pull in a company now and then that can create really high paying jobs for folks. But we have to invest in our own. Like that’s what we have to grow.
We have to grow our own folks, and we have to grow our own companies. When you drive around Kansas city, what gives us our culture here, right? You think about the companies that started here, whether that’s Gates, right? Or whether that H and R block or hallmark. Or, you know, mr Kauffman’s firm that’s no longer with us, but has that ongoing legacy things that are home grown.
Yeah. Right. We didn’t dry in, you know, Boeing to change the complexion of our city. That doesn’t happen actually in many communities.
Bobby Keys: [00:09:50] I love that, and I think this speaks to why Kansas city is just like, I don’t know. I. I’ve been able to travel and, and, and you always hear, and it’s the same thing. Kansas city is the most genuine place in America.
Like it’s one, like, people, there are people so nice, but it’s like we, we invest in our community, you know, it, and it’s a reflection. It kind of permeates through everything from our sports to our businesses, to, you know, to the arts and to the philanthropy. And that’s how I, I, I don’t, dunno. I don’t know why I brought that up, but I just thought it was cool.
Kind of talking
Ruth Bigus: [00:10:23] point Midwest. Nice.
Bobby Keys: [00:10:24] Yeah. Midwest. Nice.
Larry Jacobs: [00:10:25] Yeah. Now it’s time to maybe break through Midwest. Nice. You get to Midwest do. Right. So, you know, the challenge that I think we bump up against is not confronting some of the issues that have been systemic, that have been in place for a long time. And it’s not unique to Kansas city.
This is everywhere under the sun. You know, for the last year and a half, we’ve been hosting a community conversation that was spawned by opportunity’s own legislation and happy to get into the details of that. But the, you know, the really important thing there is having honest conversations about how did we get here.
You know what? What did our highway systems do to segment off neighborhoods, right? What did red lining do to put people behind. Way behind on wealth accumulation. And how does that have a, you know, a barrier today? So people are in positions of power today. You know, the folks I talked to who have really great intentions, you know, but they, they’re dealing with legacy systems that are still barriers and blocks.
And how do we push through that as a community and ultimately as a nation, we have to confront it. But let’s start. Local. Yeah.
Bobby Keys: [00:11:30] Do you see that kind of, I mean, because me, you know, being biracial, you know, and growing up in both worlds, I do see it, I see it, but they’re in, it’s amazing. That’s, people don’t, they don’t, and they deny it.
Oh, red lining doesn’t exist. There’s no systemic. And I’m like, no, you have to just accept it and realize it. And and that seems to be, you know, what you’re talking about is just kind of, and then moving through it and then as that you kind of grow. Yeah. And as a community, do you see more, do you see more, minority businesses kind of developing in Kansas city, or is that something that’s,
Larry Jacobs: [00:12:01] it’s still lagging?
We’d like to see more. there’s a particular focus on it, from a lot of grips. I think the good news though is. Yeah. You have more groups focusing on the issue and looking very seriously at the barriers that are in place, not just the Kauffman foundation and the chamber of commerce is as pushing, you know, quite a few initiatives.
The civic council of greater Kansas, he pushing initiatives and they’re coming alongside groups that have been in the trenches for a really long time, whether that’s the urban league or community builders at KC and others that are trying to move things forward, whether that’s all cap working on the.
Yeah. On the financial side of getting more minority and women business owners up and running, you know, you have more people coming alongside and recognizing those questions. One interesting thing, you know, the foundation brought in a group called the racial equity Institute. that breaks down. The data of your city and focuses on what historically has gone on here.
So it puts the race conversation in a place of fact. It puts the race conversation in a place where you can say, okay, now I see some of these trends that I may have not just, I may have not been familiar with at all. We’ve had more than 500 leaders in our community go through that training. So it’s a stern.
Yeah. It’s a start of a conversation. It’s a way to get some basic level of facts together so that you can now say, okay, well what do we do about that and where do we go from here? And that’s what we’re trying to do is just stimulate more of that conversation for problem
Bobby Keys: [00:13:25] solving. Yeah. The data is huge because that’s that, that you can’t deny that.
Right. You know, there’s a lot of people that can’t differentiate between an opinion based statement or a factual based statement these days. So it’s like you’ve got to have the data, like this is what’s happening here.
Larry Jacobs: [00:13:38] You know, absolutely.
Bobby Keys: [00:13:39] This is an opinion. This isn’t, this isn’t actual facts
Larry Jacobs: [00:13:43] and it, and it’s, it’s all the way around.
It’s really, you know, going back to that community conversation, that we’ve been sponsoring around opportunities zones, looking at a geography and hearing from residents and hearing from groups that are working in the area. And then hearing from the city, you have very different points of view. You know, and I, we hear it all the time, like I’ll go to the East side of Kansas city and folks will say, the Kauffman foundation doesn’t put any money over here.
Well, the reality is we put millions and millions of dollars a year into, into the East side. It’s our primary focus. The city is the same thing. When you look at where the city’s investments are going, there’s $1 billion worth of infrastructure investment happening on the side, but residents aren’t feeling that directly.
Ruth Bigus: [00:14:26] So there’s
Larry Jacobs: [00:14:26] a disconnect. There’s a disconnect. So how do we better adapt to that? How do we better, you know, listen to what the residents are, are seeing, feeling, and experiencing on a day to day, and then how, you know, from a more grass top point of view, how can you help change some of the systems that are at play that, you know, will hopefully improve the day to day existence of anybody living in the neighborhoods.
That’s, that’s the conversation we’ve been having for about a year now. Do
Ruth Bigus: [00:14:52] you ever just like. Wake up and go, Oh my gosh, there’s a lot on the plate. And how do you tackle it?
Larry Jacobs: [00:15:00] Yeah. every day, every day. and it’s, I think it’s something that is unique when you work at a foundation cause you recognize you have these resources.
Right? And so it’s unlike any other vehicle that you’ve been part of. Like, our job is actually to give money rather than raise money rather than, you know, kind of scrape it together. And I’ve been on all sides of that equation as a business owner, you know, as somebody that’s worked in the nonprofit sector and also helps support government entities, this is a very different beast, right?
So I think the folks that work at the Kauffman foundation feel that pressure every single day to say, okay, we have this unique thing. How do we not blow it? Cause we don’t know everything. We know we don’t know everything, but at the same time, we’re trying to listen and learn so that we can make new mistakes instead of the same mistakes
Ruth Bigus: [00:15:50] and the brilliance of Ewing Kauffman to, you know, you’d love to connect with him somehow and say, is this what you envisioned?
And just knowing a little bit about him and his personality, my guess would be. No, but I knew to plant a seed that would keep growing and with good helmsmen ship and leadership would, would go and expand. You recently had a post on the website that we just have a little McNugget of time, but they were kind of like three challenges for nonprofits and, and how maybe they could tackle them and then we’ll refer people to go to the website and read it.
Larry Jacobs: [00:16:30] Sure. What
Ruth Bigus: [00:16:32] were those three, those three key points maybe that we can keep in the minds of our nonprofit listeners?
Larry Jacobs: [00:16:37] Yeah, I mean, one, one big piece as it relates to a topic. We were just addressing this around funding inequity, you know, foundation foundations overall fund, who they know in a lot of ways, right?
So we’re trying to dig deeper into the community and understand. The funding inequities, especially by groups that are led by people of color. so that’s one big trend that we see. Another big piece that we see is investment in technology and talent. you know, founding foundations are moving more towards helping nonprofits better track their, you know, their results in their outcomes, but you don’t have the technology necessarily to do that.
So really focusing on that and then, you know, raised diversity, equity, inclusion. As we’re looking at not only who we fund, but also who the beneficiary beneficiaries are. Are you listening to the beneficiaries? Is there a feedback loop there? Is there an opportunity to learn more about what people need so that you can deliver better services?
How do you do that in a very culturally competent way? Those are three of the bigger trends that we’re seeing in our KC civic work addresses that through a lot of capacity building investments with nonprofits.
Ruth Bigus: [00:17:42] Larry, it’s been great to have you. We got to have you back. We’ll have to get on the calendar six months out because he’s so busy running around doing all this great
Larry Jacobs: [00:17:50] stuff.
I really appreciate the time today.
Ruth Bigus: [00:17:52] Go to kaufman.org it is a wealth of information and help and positivity.
Larry Jacobs: [00:18:00] Thank you so much. I appreciate that comment.
Bobby Keys: [00:18:01] Thank you. Thank you. .