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Frequently Asked Questions about The Kresge Foundation.

About Philanthropy

What is a private foundation?

A foundation is an organization with a fund, or endowment, that gives money to other organizations for charitable purposes. A private foundation can be set up by an individual, family or business.

How are foundations different from other tax-exempt nonprofits or organizations?

A private foundation is usually funded by a single source, such as an individual, family or corporation. It does not solicit funds from the public. Nonprofits and public charities generally fundraise and receive grants to carry out their work and are classified as tax exempt 501(c)(3) organizations. Although some public charities engage in grantmaking activities, most conduct direct service or other tax-exempt activities.

About the Foundation

What is the history of The Kresge Foundation?

The Kresge Foundation was established in 1924 with an initial gift of $1.3 million from Sebastian S. Kresge, the founder of the S.S. Kresge Company, which began as a single five-and-dime store and grew into the nationwide chain of stores that eventually became Kmart. Over 40 years, Kresge contributed more than $60 million of his personal wealth to the foundation.

For more than 80 years, The Kresge Foundation supported fundraising campaigns for capital projects such as building libraries, schools, community centers, and arts and cultural institutions.

In 2006, The Kresge Foundation shifted its focus to strategic philanthropy by focusing on specific program areas to help expand opportunities for people with low incomes in America’s cities.

Where is the foundation located?

We are based just north of Detroit in Troy, Michigan; we also have an office in Midtown Detroit. While community development in Detroit is a significant part of our work, Kresge is a national foundation with investments and partnerships across the country. More important than the location of our office is our team’s ability to engage with people living in many different communities.

Our Work

How does Kresge work with other public, private and civic organizations?

We collaborate with public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in a variety of ways.

  • Nonprofits: We provide grants that support operations, projects and planning activities for nonprofit partners that are creating pathways for people with low incomes.
  • Public/government entities: Kresge partners with public and government entities to support educational campaigns and dissemination of smart policy solutions that seek to create pathways to opportunity for people with low incomes in cities.
  • Private companies: One way that Kresge partners with private companies is through our Social Investment Practice. By bringing needed capital to projects that otherwise would not receive traditional investment, Kresge’s Social Investment Practice unlocks capital, bends markets, and attracts other partners, including private investors, to an investment.
  • Kresge’s Investment Office: Kresge’s Investment Office supports the mission by overseeing the foundation’s portfolio of long-term investment assets, which are invested globally among a mix of diversified strategies.
  • Philanthropic organizations/foundations: We partner with many other funders and philanthropic organizations to advance our work and our grantees’ work, including hosting meetings to discuss best practices, raising awareness of significant issues, and by working together to fund key initiatives.

Why does Kresge focus its work in cities?

America’s cities – where more than 80 percent of Americans with low incomes reside – are linchpins of socioeconomic mobility and increased opportunity. Simply put, they are powerful vehicles for change.

Why is Detroit a focus city?

The Kresge Foundation began in Detroit in 1924, and we have invested heavily in our hometown since our inception. Since moving to strategic philanthropy in 2006, it has been in Detroit that we have most embraced risk and used multiple tools to move intractable challenges. By piloting, testing and scaling effective and inclusive urban practices here, we can then offer tested approaches that may be useful in other urban communities.’

Why are Memphis and New Orleans focus cities?

We draw from our experiences supporting community-driven solutions in Detroit to promote inclusive community development practices for people in American cities, especially Memphis and New Orleans. In Memphis, New Orleans and Detroit, Kresge supports efforts to create neighborhoods of opportunity – with an emphasis on core city neighborhoods – for residents living with low incomes. This means supporting projects and programs that have the potential to result in sustainable change, such as inclusive planning, robust capacity building and strengthening key systems.

How does racial equity show up in your grantmaking?

Together with our partners, we work to break down systems of inequity that stem from racism, classism, and sexism – all the prejudices that were intended to divide people. As a foundation, we are working to dismantle the historic racial constructs of our country through each program strategy by expanding opportunities in America’s cities. We take an asset-based approach when working in historically marginalized communities. We empower residents with low incomes to advocate for and lead change in their neighborhoods by promoting models of distributed leadership and wealth.

Funding Opportunities

How do I find open funding opportunities?

Some of our funding opportunities are open to all grant seekers and others are by invitation only. Open funding opportunities are regularly listed on our Current Funding Opportunities page. To be notified about new open funding opportunities, please sign up for our weekly newsletter or follow @kresgefdn on X.