Empowering Communities through Strategic Philanthropy: Lessons from the Kauffman Foundation

Imagine a world where every community thrives, where opportunities are equitable, and where every individual has the chance to succeed. This isn’t just a dream; it’s the vision being realized at the Kauffman Foundation under the leadership of Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace. 

In the realm of philanthropy, the focus has traditionally been on monetary donations. But today, the Kauffman Foundation is redefining this concept. It’s no longer just about writing checks; it’s about strategic philanthropy – a method that combines generous giving with a tactical approach to solve societal issues effectively.

Empowerment and Impact

At the heart of the Foundation’s work is empowerment. This isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a commitment to enabling communities to flourish on their own terms. How? By focusing on education and entrepreneurship – the two pillars that Dr. Burns-Wallace believes can propel communities towards sustainable prosperity.

But empowerment isn’t just about providing resources; it’s about breaking down barriers. Many communities face systemic challenges that hinder their progress. The Kauffman Foundation is actively working to dismantle these barriers, ensuring that opportunities are not just available, but also accessible to everyone.

Involving Communities in Strategic Planning

The Kauffman Foundation understands that real change cannot occur in a vacuum. That’s why they’re deeply involving communities in their strategic planning process. This approach ensures that the solutions devised are not only practical but also resonate with the actual needs of the people they’re meant to serve. By bringing diverse voices to the table, the Foundation is ensuring that their strategies are inclusive and effective.

The Legacy and the Future

Ewing Marion Kauffman, the founder, left behind a legacy of innovation and community focus. Dr. Burns-Wallace is building on this legacy, steering the Foundation towards a future where their impact can be even more profound. The strategic planning phase, while rooted in the Foundation’s history, is a stepping stone towards a future where the Foundation’s work is more aligned with the evolving needs of communities.

Equitable Opportunities for Underrepresented Communities

A significant aspect of the Kauffman Foundation’s work under Dr. Burns-Wallace is creating equitable opportunities for underrepresented communities. Recognizing that certain groups have historically been marginalized, the Foundation is investing in these communities to level the playing field. This means not just providing resources but also ensuring that these groups have the support and tools they need to succeed.

The Influence of a Diverse Background

Dr. Burns-Wallace’s diverse background in public service, education, and diplomacy brings a unique perspective to the Foundation’s work. Her experience helps her understand the complex tapestry of societal issues and the multifaceted solutions they require. This experience is invaluable in guiding the Foundation’s strategies and ensuring that their work is not just impactful but also culturally sensitive and globally informed.


As we explore the journey of the Kauffman Foundation, we see a powerful example of how philanthropy can evolve to meet the challenges of the modern world. Under Dr. Burns-Wallace’s leadership, the Foundation is not just a benefactor but a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change. It’s a testament to the power of strategic philanthropy – a blend of generosity, vision, and tactical acumen – in creating a world where every community has the power to thrive.

By focusing on empowerment, community involvement, and equitable opportunities, the Kauffman Foundation is not just changing lives; it’s changing the very fabric of how we approach philanthropy. And that, dear reader, is a journey worth following.