Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Great Schools Visits


While well-intended, much of the work of philanthropy is largely done “to” communities, instead of “with” them. The result does not encourage community-fostered solutions and collective momentum and accountability to solve problems.


The Kauffman Foundation’s “Great Schools Visits” engage parents, educators, business leaders, clergy, and nonprofit executives—representing a diverse cross-section of Kansas City—to learn together from high-performing schools across the country that serve a similar population of students as those in the Kansas City area. The idea is that these community members—with their unique experiences, views and perspectives on the challenges—will take ownership over efforts to improve our schools, increasing the likelihood of success.

Groups of 20 individuals from Kansas City spend two days in cities with concentrations of high-performing schools, where they sit on buses, at dinner, and in meetings with people in their own community with whom they have never (or rarely) interacted. They return home, having developed new, diverse relationships and a renewed passion for giving students the quality school options they deserve.


So far, 368 community members have participated in Great Schools Visits. Two individuals later became Kansas City school board members. Three affinity groups also have formed (Faith & Education Collaborative, Parent & Family Engagement, School Tours KC) to improve the engagement and involvement of community within the education landscape.

The Great Schools Visits engage a diverse group of stakeholders with the goal of creating a grassroots movement of people taking ownership over the improvement of schools in Kansas City.


Wendy Guillies, president and CEO, Kauffman Foundation

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