The flourishing of the United States depends on the ability of its communities to form citizens of good character while instilling the technical abilities that allow young people to support themselves with meaningful work in well-paying, high-demand jobs. This, by definition, is education – a community’s effort to form young people’s character, knowledge, practices, and skills, thereby passing on to the rising generation its moral and intellectual nature.
The K12 Education Program is dedicated to restoring these two objectives to our educational institutions. In the area of academic achievement, the Foundation emphasizes science, technology, engineering and mathematics, disciplines that will allow young people to adapt to an increasingly technological world. History and research demonstrate that character formation and schools that are internationally competitive will lead to human flourishing in a vibrant society undergirded by a prosperous economy.
Instead of providing charity for short-term effects, 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.
The Kern Family Foundation
In 1959, Robert and Patricia Kern founded a new business in Waukesha, Wis. 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, Wis. 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, Dr. 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, entrepreneurially minded engineering talent.
In practice, the Foundation intentionally focuses on systemic change, rather than charities. It seeks to target funding toward broad impact, long-term programs. The Foundation’s programs include the K12 Education Program, the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN), and the Faith, Work, and Economics Program, as well as a partnership with Project Lead the Way (a pre-engineering program for middle and high school students).