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The Kresge Foundation to commemorate its centennial in 2024 with special events

Centennial, General Foundation News

Kresge will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year through commemorative events and community activations that honor the institution’s past, present and future.

The Kresge Foundation – one of the nation’s oldest and largest private philanthropies with an endowment of nearly $4 billion in assets – will be commemorating the centennial of its founding throughout 2024 in its hometown of Detroit. To mark this special occasion, Kresge will host commemorative events and community activations that celebrate the foundation’s longstanding philanthropic legacy.

Sebastian S. Kresge, in a three-piece suit, sits behind a desk.
On June 11, 1924, on the occasion of his retail company’s 25th anniversary, Sebastian S. Kresge establishes The Kresge Foundation with an endowment of $1.3 million with a mission to promote human progress.

“Our centennial year will not only commemorate the Kresge Foundation’s arc of accomplishment since its establishment in 1924, but also afford an opportunity to reflect on our future trajectory and impact – on Detroit, on the nation and on the practices of philanthropy,” said Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson. “We build on the shoulders of our founder Sebastian S. Kresge, who created the S.S. Kresge Company retail chain and who dedicated his generosity in endowing the foundation to making the world a better place. He would, I believe, take deep pride in both what the foundation has accomplished and how it is positioned to fulfill his mission long into the future.”

“Celebrating the Kresge Foundation’s storied past is important because it illuminates and informs our current vision and future strategic direction,” said Cecilia Muñoz, chairwoman of Kresge’s Board of Trustees. “In the years since our founding, Kresge has built and expanded its capacity to invest in people and places to make American cities thrive, often with transformative effects. Here’s to a century of work that equipped the Kresge Foundation for this moment, and to the next century that will be shaped by what we hope to achieve.”

Kresge’s impact over the century

The Kresge Foundation has achieved immense philanthropic impact in the past 100 years, specifically:

  • Awarding $5.1 billion in total grants since its founding. Of that, more than $1 billion was invested in Kresge’s hometown of Detroit.
  • With its emphasis on investing in place, Kresge has invested in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., two U.S. territories and more than 18 countries.
  • Under Rapson’s leadership, Kresge has made more than 8,000 grants exceeding $2.9 billion and 152 social investment commitments exceeding $510 million.

Celebratory events, community activations and signature research

The Kresge Foundation will partner with the Detroit Historical Society to offer the community an opportunity to learn about Kresge’s history and its impact on cities. A special educational exhibit about the foundation will open to the public at the Detroit Historical Museum on May 4 and run through January 2025.

A before and after photo of the Detroit riverfront. The before photo shows the desolate areas along the riverfront and parking lots next to the Renaissance Center complex. The after photo shows the location after the renovated Detroit RiverWalk opened.
The foundation made a $50 million commitment in 2002 to develop the Detroit RiverWalk and establish the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. Through 14 grants between 2002-2016, Kresge has invested more than $51.6 million in the RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut project. (Before and after photos courtesy of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy)

Kresge is also supporting efforts to refresh a replica Kresge five and dime store, which is part of the Detroit Historical Museum’s permanent “Streets of Old Detroit” exhibit. Additionally, a community open house, public programming and conversations and museum free days will be offered for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.

The foundation will also seek to fortify and expand its cities-focused thought leadership through a series of national and local Detroit convenings. Beginning in April, Kresge will host a series of discussions centered on innovative approaches to community development with an emphasis on climate change, transit, cradle-to-career education models and reparative practices. Working alongside the Urban Consulate, Kresge will also host a speaker series in Detroit. These sessions will culminate in a national summit in June that will focus on the community development best practices Kresge has learned during its many years working in American cities.

Throughout the year, Kresge experts and academic partners will be releasing commentaries and research related to Kresge grantmaking initiatives, the foundation’s history and convenings.

Kresge will also publish an updated version of Embracing a City, which will take the book’s examination of Kresge investments in Detroit up to the present day.

Refreshed Brand

In preparation for the commemoration, the foundation has refreshed and modernized its visual identity and digital presence, including a centennial-specific logo that will continue in an amended format as the foundation’s permanent logo.

Kresge also introduced a new centennial section to its website to share the history of its founder, the S.S. Kresge Co. retail business and the foundation. Kresge will regularly update this website with photos and historical stories that capture Kresge’s past and the foundation’s ongoing impact. Through the website, the public is encouraged to share their personal memories and reflections about how the foundation and Kresge stores touched their lives.

In addition to compelling historical stories, Kresge will also create a short documentary film about the foundation. Later in the year, Kresge will release its annual report, which will focus on the centennial and Kresge’s 100 years of impact.

Kresge will regularly share news and updates about its centennial celebrations at

The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit