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The Kern Family Foundation, Inc.


Last Updated: 2016-06-07

At A Glance

The Kern Family Foundation, Inc.

W305 S4239 Brookhill Rd.

Waukesha, WI United States 53189-9126

Telephone: (262) 968-6838


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $698,418,850

Total giving: $38,249,724






Established in 1998 in WI - In 1959, Robert and Patricia Kern founded a business in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Despite many setbacks, this business eventually grew to become Generac Power Systems, one of the world's largest independent manufacturers of complete engine-driven generator systems. The company makes power generators for several applications, including industrial, commercial, residential, recreational, vehicle and communications, with systems that range from three to 6,000 kilowatts. When Generac Power Systems sold a division of the company in 1998, a portion of the proceeds went to establish the Kern Family Foundation, a private, independent grant-making organization based in Waukesha, WI. In 2006, the Kerns sold the balance of the business and directed a significant portion of the profits to grow the foundation. In keeping with the vision of its founders Drs. Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern, the Kern Family Foundation seeks to enrich the lives of others by promoting strong pastoral leadership, educational excellence and high quality, innovative engineering talent.

Purpose and Activities

The foundation's purpose is to seek to enhance and encourage religious values, family and community competitive educational structures, and moral and ethical values in society. The foundation supports the promotion of religious values in religious ministry and promotes the study and enhancement of competitive educational structures in the U.S.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Faith, Work, and Economics

The predominant mission of the foundation in this program is to equip pastors with an understanding of the intersection of faith, work, and economics, and to empower them to lead their congregations in active application of this knowledge. The goals are: 1) Educate future and existing pastors about the importance of work in developing people's character, affirming their dignity, sustaining them, and helping them to flourish; 2) Educate future and existing pastors about how the economy is a moral system in which people exchange their work, and that free enterprise grounded in moral character is the most effective way to promote dignity, lift people out of poverty, and produce human flourishing; 3) Sustain and build upon this education by growing active networks of pastors and theological educators who recognize the importance of integrating the spheres of work and the economy into one's understanding of discipleship; and 4) Provide resources that enable pastors to actively apply this understanding in their churches.

K-12 Education Reform

The foundation program is dedicated to restoring to our educational institutions the ability of its communities to form citizens of good character with attributes like integrity, industriousness, and personal responsibility while instilling the technical abilities that allow young people to support themselves with meaningful work in well-paying, high-demand jobs. In the area of academic achievement, the foundation places emphasis in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, disciplines that will allow young people to adapt to an increasingly technological world. The foundation makes strategic investments with the goal of producing systemic, transformative results. Because school leaders are the most important actors in developing schools that will shape students' character and help them achieve, the foundation invests in the recruitment, selection, training, placement, and support of a new generation of principals .

Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN)

The program's mission is to graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work. The long-term goal is for these new engineers to catalyze a transformation in the workforce and to build economic and technical commerce in their communities. This focus on entrepreneurial leaders is increasingly important as the U.S. competes to maintain its economic position in a global marketplace based on innovation. The program reaches students through a network of institutions. KEEN currently involves 19 universities around the country. The program provides institutional grants, topical grants, and small group grants. To learn more about participating universities and the grant application process, see the KEEN web site: .

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has made a PRI, in the form of a loan, to a national nonprofit that develops transformational school leaders and designs effective leadership policies and practices for school systems across the country, to assist in its principal training program costs.

Fields of Interest

  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Graduate and professional education
  • Protestantism
  • Religion
  • Science
  • Theology
  • Youth development
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $698,418,850 (market value)

Gifts received: $18,415

Expenditures: $45,478,526

Total giving: $38,249,724

Qualifying distributions: $43,091,298

Giving activities include:

$38,249,724 for 120 grants (high: $3,646,719; low: $951)

$625,724 for 3 foundation-administered programs