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Our Story

Grounded in Equity. Working to Expand Opportunity in Cities

The Kresge Foundation was founded by Sebastian S. Kresge in 1924 with a single but extraordinary mission: To promote human progress. For more than eight decades, we did so through capital challenge grants, helping to establish educational, cultural and health care facilities across the country. In 2006, we embarked on a multiyear transition to redefine Kresge for the 21st century. What resulted is a strategic philanthropy. We examine issues in their entirety, take measured risks and employ an array of financial tools to help expand opportunities for low-income people living in cities.

Our Work Today and Tomorrow

As we approach our centennial, we favor strategies that take a long-view approach while staying flexible to adapt to new trends. We concentrate our work in cities, where more than 80% of the U.S. population lives. This focus offers us the greatest potential to assist high numbers of people in hardship or poverty.

About Our Founder Sebastian S. Kresge

In 1924, with $1.3 million, Sebastian Kresge established the foundation to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his company, the S.S. Kresge Company, and to use his wealth “to leave the world a better place than I found it.” His revolutionary “five-and-dime” merchandising concept grew into the nationwide chain Kmart.

The Kresge Foundation Through the Years

  • 1899-1924
  • 1925 - 1945
  • 1945-1969
  • 1970-2005
  • 2006-Present
Kresge staff is working remotely, and our offices are closed until further notice.  See our promise to partners during COVID-19.
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