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Mini-cast 145: The Kendeda Fund

Image of The Kendeda Fund and The EsOp Podcast logos on a background of growing trees.

Bret Keisling discusses The Kendeda Fund, an amazing philanthropic fund with a 30-year mission to improve our communities and world that has provided tremendous support to employee ownership.


Mini-cast 145 Transcript

Bret Keisling: [00:00:00] Welcome to the EsOp Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. Today. I want to spend a few minutes celebrating and amplifying the inspiring and important work of The Kendeda Fund. At the end of this episode, I'll share a discount code that will save you $25 on the cost of registration for the NCEO's Fall ESOP Forum.

[00:00:33] But first, every so often in my four years as a podcast host, I'll start hearing about a person or organization in the EO sandbox that wasn't on my radar, but their name keeps popping up in different places.

[00:00:47] The Kendeda Fund is one such group. They've partnered with and supported the efforts of a number of EO organizations and businesses, including The Democracy Collaborative, Project Equity, Evergreen Cooperatives, and ICA Group to name just a few.

[00:01:04] Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of being on a Zoom call with Diane Ives, who is The Kendeda Fund Advisor for People, Place, and Planet. I've invited Diane to come on our primary EO/ESOP Podcast this fall for a full conversation about all of The Kendeda Funds. Great work. But I'm so inspired by what they're doing. I wanted to highlight them on the Mini-cast so you know about them too.

[00:01:30] The Kendeda Fund began in 1993 under the leadership of Diana Blank. By the way, the name Kendeda comes from the names of her three children. Diana was a philanthropist with twin passions for social equity and the healing power of our natural environment. Some of their programs are geographically specific, including those geared to Atlanta, Montana, and the Southeast United States.

[00:01:57] Other focus areas are issue specific. For example, tremendous work on girls' rights internationally and its work on gun violence prevention. Their work in employee ownership falls into this category where it's not geographically centered but will help to enhance every community where employee ownership takes a stronger hold.

[00:02:17] Just to give two examples, The Kendeda Fund has worked with Project Equity since 2016 and played a role in Project Equity's report, Fostering Economic Resilience for Low-Income Workers. In addition, The Kendeda Fund partnered with The Democracy Collaborative who designed the structure that would become the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland and The Kendeda Fund provided the funding.

[00:02:42] I think it's very noteworthy that when The Kendeda Fund was established in 1993, its stated goal wasn't employee ownership. It was increasing the vibrancy and sustainability of communities. Like so many, The Kendeda Fund came to realize that employee ownership is a wonderful vehicle to address these other goals.

[00:03:03] There is an aspect to The Kendeda Fund that I find very inspirational, but also a little poignant. The fund was established with a specific 30-year lifespan. So, the fund will wind down in 2023. Although there's a little ways to go, The Kendeda Fund will have ended up dispersing about $1.2 billion in its 30 years existence. That's $1.2 billion invested to make our world a better place.

[00:03:33] As I looked at all the great projects The Kendeda Fund has been involved in, on the one hand, I wish they were going to be around a whole lot longer. On the other hand, I'm so glad they've come on my radar while they still exist. Because I have no doubt that I'll be talking about The Kendeda Fund's work and impact on employee ownership for years to come.

[00:03:54] Check out the show notes for this episode where besides the transcript you'll find links to The Kendeda Fund as well as links to some of the other orgs and businesses I've mentioned.

[00:04:02] In addition to the show notes, you'll find our entire archives of more than 300 episodes, which include interviews and conversations with Marjorie Kelly of The Democracy Collaborative and Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane of Project Equity.

[00:04:20] You can find all of this at

[00:04:25] Before we go, the NCEO Fall ESOP Forum is September 22nd to the 24th, 2021 in San Diego, California. You can register for online only, or a hybrid version of live and online. But however you register, use the discount code EOPod25 -- that's capital E, capital O, capital P, small o, small d, 25 -- and you'll save $25 off the cost of registration.

[00:04:53] With that, we'll wrap it up. I hope you'll join us next Tuesday for our primary EO/ESOP Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


Bitsy McCann: [00:05:02] We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.

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