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The Kresge Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-06-06

At A Glance

The Kresge Foundation

3215 W. Big Beaver Rd.

Troy, MI United States 48084-2818

Telephone: (248) 643-9630


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $3,666,563,884

Total giving: $139,954,047






Incorporated in 1924 in MI - Founded by the late Sebastian Spering Kresge for the “promotion of human progress.” Kresge amassed a fortune as founder and chairman of the board of the S.S. Kresge Co., a 5-and-10-cent syndicate operating through the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico (now known as K-Mart Corp.). The foundation is not affiliated or associated with K-Mart or any other organization. The foundation received distributions of cash and securities from the estate of the late Clara K. Kresge totaling $7,533,191 in 1983 and $11,773,896 in 1984

Purpose and Activities

The foundation seeks to strengthen nonprofit organizations by catalyzing their growth, connecting them to their stake holders, and challenging greater support through grants. The foundation believes that strong, sustainable, high capacity organizations are positioned to achieve their missions and strengthen communities. Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations operating in the fields of education, health and long-term care, human services, arts and humanities, public affairs, and science, nature, and the environment.

Program Area(s)

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

Arts and Culture

This program seeks to build strong, healthy cities by promoting the integration of arts and culture in community revitalization. The program invests in the following focus areas: 1) Pioneering New Approaches: projects that address challenges to the effectiveness of creative place making; 2) Harvesting Leading Practices: efforts that deepen, capture and share knowledge from established creative place making work in disinvested communities; 3) Advancing Proven Approaches: promote the adoption of tested creative place making practices and will invest in work that advances that goal.

Community Development

The program aims to advance opportunity and improve the quality of life for underserved and marginalized populations by supporting work to strengthen the social and economic fabric in American cities .


The program aspires to change the city of Detroit’s trajectory to one of long-term economic opportunity that advances social equity, promotes cultural expression, and re-establishes the foundation's hometown as the center of a vibrant region. The program invests in the following areas: 1) Detroit arts and culture; 2) Education reform; 3) Entrepreneurial development-Growing small business; 4) Green county-Sustainable city; 5) Health; 6) Mass transit development-M-1 Rail; 7) Complete neighborhoods; 8) City land use; 9) Anchor institutions-Woodward creative corridor. The program is seldom able to fund requests for support from individual organizations that are not closely linked to a broader network of collaborators.


The program focuses on expanding student access to higher education and opening avenues to academic success, particularly for those historically left out of the picture: low-income, first-generation, African American, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native American students. The program invests in the following areas: 1) Pathways to and through college: propelling more low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students into two- and four-year institutions and ensure they have the skills and support to stay and graduate; 2) Strengthening institutions: building the capacity of institutions whose primary missions are to serve low-income, underrepresented, underprepared, and first-generation college students; 3) Higher education in South Africa: promoting access and success at South African universities. The program does not accept unsolicited proposals for financial support .

Employee Matching Gifts

The foundation matches the monetary gifts of its employees to charitable organizations.


The program invests in activities that reduce the severity of climate change and strengthen communities against the changes already underway and is committed to building the resilience of communities. The program will support: 1) Place-based activities: Communities of practitioners who are addressing similar resilience challenges; topic areas are to be determined; and 2) Field building: Organizations that are advancing new knowledge, contributing new resources, building wider understanding of climate-resilience concepts, and promoting diverse networks and learning opportunities. Applications by invitation only.


The program's goal is to reduce health disparities by promoting conditions and environments that lead to positive health outcomes for all Americans, including promoting the health and well-being of low-income and vulnerable populations by improving the environmental and social conditions affecting their communities and by improving access to high-quality health care. The program invests in the following areas: 1) Community health partnerships: strengthening the primary-care safety net and community health systems; 2) Healthy environments: investing in efforts to make the places where low-income families live, learn, work and play safe and healthy. Support is focused on housing, food, transportation and the built environment as key determinants of health. Applications for grants and program-related investments are accepted.

Human Services

The program seeks to expand access and opportunity for individuals and families who are vulnerable and low-income by strengthening human services organizations and promoting new responses to challenges in the sector. The program invests in the following areas: 1) Advancing the effectiveness and resilience of multiservice organizations: partnering with high-performing, multiservice organizations that seek to increase their ability to innovate and take their service-delivery and systems-change work to a higher level; 2) Leveraging the effectiveness of networks: supporting umbrella organizations and networks striving to re-invent the sector in ways that increase effectiveness and ultimately improve the quality of life and economic security of low-income individuals and families. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis. Review the applicable focus area’s web page and the application process it recommends.

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has awarded PRIs in the form of a low-interest loans to finance the purchase of refrigerated trucks to support a network of food banks and mobile pantries to distribute donated food, and to community development organizations for expansion costs, to increase existing loan pools and to provide capital reserves for a loan fund. In 2009, in response to the economic crisis, the foundation created the Community Relief Fund, which offered human services organizations interest-free bridge loans to help them meet the demands for their services. $5.25 million in loans were awarded through the fund.

Fields of Interest

  • Artist's services
  • Arts and culture
  • Community and economic development
  • Energy resources
  • Environment
  • Health care administration and financing
  • Higher education
  • Human services
  • Natural resources
  • Public policy
Population Groups
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Governments and agencies

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $3,666,563,884 (market value)

Expenditures: $180,456,148

Total giving: $139,954,047

Qualifying distributions: $165,009,886

Giving activities include:

$139,954,047 for grants

$4,877,482 for loans/program-related investments