Breakthrough Advocate and Long-time Supporter Honored as Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation of the Year by Greater Austin’s Association of Fundraising Professionals

The Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation

Breakthrough is excited to announce that the Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation, long-time Breakthrough supporter and advocate, has been recognized as the 2024 Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation of the Year by Greater Austin’s Association of Fundraising Professionals,  in recognition of the foundation’s investments in social justice and educational equity in our community and beyond.

How It Started

Michael and Alice Kuhn’s personal commitment to social justice started early. Influenced by experiences of being raised by families impacted by the Great Depression, and inspired by their Jewish faith, they both felt called to help others. Michael and Alice were married in 1961 and from the start of their union, worked together to make change in their community. The two worked to help ensure the end of segregation in Dallas through their involvement in the Young Democrats before moving to Austin in 1978.

In 1996, the couple formed the Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation with the mission to fight systemic poverty by investing in organizations that advocate for constituencies that have historically been excluded from social influence, economic power, and resources. While we mourn Michael Kuhn’s passing this year, we recognize the tremendous impact he and Alice have had on our community through their personal and professional commitment to this mission. 

For many years, the Kuhns focused a portion of their grantmaking on helping under-resourced students, especially first-generation students. Beneficiaries include college-degree aspirants from Breakthrough Central Texas, St. Edward’s University, and University of Texas at Austin (UT), as well as programs helping students earlier in the pipeline, such as Literacy First. They also support progressive Jewish organizations and interfaith collaboratives fighting for social justice, such as Bend the Arc, Just Congregations, and other community organizing groups.

The Foundation’s Breakthrough Story 

Breakthrough Central Texas can attest to their impact. Since 2009, the foundation has granted more than $350,000 to support students at a critical time—middle school. 

Recognizing that early intervention is key, Breakthrough begins early to help launch students on a path to higher education. This long-term grantmaking effort has sustained our core middle school programming and allowed us to expand. Added to this financial support, the Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation has been the best kind of funder–always supportive, trusting in our organization to do well by their investment, and committing for the long haul. To date, the foundation has been a steady supporter of Breakthrough Central Texas for 14 years.  

By working with and investing in our partner institutions and their own efforts to propel first-generation and low-income students to postsecondary success, the Kuhns have created a strong system of support for vulnerable students.

The foundation also supports numerous diversity and inclusion efforts. At UT, Alice sat on the Advisory Council for the former Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Their past investments include the McNair Scholarship Program, providing funds for low-income, first-generation college students to visit a graduate school of their choice or attend a conference; the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program, providing $1,000 stipends to 35 pre-grad interns who are either the first in their family to attend college or come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds; and Project Mentoring to Achieve Latino Education Success (MALES), providing funding for undergraduate student mentors. Alice also passionately supports Interfaith Austin, an organization working to educate low-income communities about ways to advocate for themselves in our community. The organization develops leaders and promotes justice and democratic values.