501c Success Series with Wendy Guillies, Kauffman Foundation – Working Together for Systems Change through Philanthropy

Wendy Guillies and the Kauffman Foundation are ready to create lasting systems change through philanthropy. As the keynote speaker at the 501c Success National Speaker Series on October 7, Wendy addressed an audience of nonprofit executives, staff and volunteers about the importance of working together to address and solve some of society’s most complex issues.

(Jeffrey Byrne, Co-Founder/CEO of Byrne Pelofsky – left – and Wendy Guillies – right)

As the President & Chief Executive of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – one of the largest private foundations in the United States –  Guillies leads the Foundation’s work to boost student achievement in the Kansas City region and to accelerate entrepreneurship across the country.

Guillies’ keynote presentation covered the myriad of issues that stymie community progress – a growing wealth and income gap with an extreme concentration of wealth at the top, an enormous opportunity gap and the fading expectation of upward mobility to name a few. Studies from global organizations like the International Monetary Fund show that higher levels of inequality cut into overall economic growth. Even people at the top of pyramid are throwing up red flags, labeling inequality in America as a national emergency. Guillies believes that the time for hope and action has arrived, and the Kauffman Foundation is dedicated to making the economy stronger and more inclusive.

Through the Kauffman Foundation’s prepared workforce and entrepreneurship programs, their aim is to prepare young people for the workforce expectations of today and support individuals starting businesses in their communities. Years of research have helped the Kauffman Foundation identify where the gaps are (among people of color, women, geographically) and the Foundation is ready to close them.

It’s clear that the Foundation is working with urgency to meet this moment so everyone has an opportunity to achieve prosperity. Internally, the Foundation is reviewing its own grant application process and aims to eliminate artificial barriers to entry for nonprofit organizations looking to partner with them. They are facilitating internal conversations around culture, leadership and language in order to create a space of trust and belonging for their employees.

Guillies reiterated that she is not discouraged, but rather is hopeful about what philanthropy can do to address these complex issues. We all just need to work together to meet this moment.

Join us at our final 501c Success Series presentation for 2021 featuring Qiana Thomason, President & CEO, and Brenda Calvin, Culture & Inclusion Officer, with Health Forward Foundation on October 28 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. 

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