Fund History-OLD

The impetus for starting a foundation in 1946 came from the family’s concern for the many local charities they supported. They realized that conditions that typically follow economic depressions and wars could affect their ability to support charities in time of greatest need. A philanthropic philosophy thus evolved :
Allow the more prosperous years to provide for the lean ones.


    • 2015 Green Grants were expanded to include pilot recycling and other energy and environmental saving projects.The Fund made its first Mission Related Investment (a market rate investment with a social return) to restore a home and revitalize a neighborhood.

    • 2012 Cecile Kempner Vocational Technical Scholarship Program established at Galveston College to enhance the educational and employment opportunities for vocational students.

    • 2010 The Fund initiated “Green Grants” to assist non-profits in lowering energy costs and consumption by providing energy efficient lighting and retrofitting lighting fixtures in buildings owned by non-profits. In collaboration with a local foundation the Fund made short term PRI’s to nonprofits after Hurricane Ike. The more than $1.3 million loaned allowed local nonprofits to access about $40 million in Federal Social Service Block Grant funding.

    • 2007 The directors reinforced their philanthropic commitment to Galveston with added emphasis on improving the health and well being of Galveston families.

    • 2001 With assets values at $43 million the Fund will continue to provide small grants that fill a gap, act as a catalyst, give new ideas a jump-start, and help existing, well-run organizations to continue to operate.

    • 1992 The Fund initiated Program Related Investments to provide low-interest loans for residential and commercial community development projects.
    • 2000 The University of Texas Medical Branch established the Fannie Kempner Adoue Professorship on Cognitive Rehabilitation in appreciation of a grant from the Fund toward that initiative.

    • 1991 The Advisory Committee system was established to involve third and fourth generation family members in the Fund’s grant program; they review and recommend for funding proposals of a global nature.

    • 1990 In recognition of Leonora K. Thompson’s service as chair of the Fund, a Community Enrichment Award was established in her name with a revolving fund to provide seed money for an annual benefit event for The Grand 1894 Opera House.

    • 1987 The Harris L. Kempner Memorial Award was established to benefit organizations selected by his widow, Ruth Levy Kempner. After the death of Mrs. Kempner in 2008, resources were merged to the main fund for general purposes.

    • 1983 The Jennifer L. Ezell Memorial Scholarship Fund was established.

    • 1972 The Harris L. Kempner Professorship in Humanities in Medicine was established at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

    • 1968 The Gladys and R. Lee Kempner Professorship in Child Psychiatry was established at The University of Texas Medical Branch.

    • 1964 The I.H. Kempner Professorship in Human Genetics was established at The University of Texas Medical Branch.

    • 1963 The Family Matching Gifts Program began. Since its inception, about $5 million charitable contributions by family members have been matched by the Fund.

    • 1959 The first student loans were made. This program, now the Harris L. Kempner Student Loan Program, has made available more than $2 million in loans circulated to over 500 students.

    • The trustees established a Visiting Professorship at The University of Texas Medical Branch in memory of Daniel W. Kempner. The I.H. Kempner, Jr. Scholarship Endowment was established at Harvard College in memory of Mr. Kempner.

    • 1958 By the terms of the Last Will and Testament of Gladys Kempner, the Kemper Park Fund was established for repairs and improvements to Kempner Park.

    • 1956 By terms of the Last Will and Testament of Daniel W. Kempner, the Jeane B. Kempner Fund was established to provide fellowships for graduates of The University of Texas Medical Branch to pursue advanced studies. Approximately $5 million has been awarded from this Fund.

    • 1950 Galveston Fund name changed to Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund to honor progenitors.

    • 1946 Trust Indenture creating the Galveston Fund is signed by the five donors (I.H. Kempner, Daniel W. Kempner, R. Lee Kempner, Stanley E. Kempner and Harris L. Kempner) and the five founding trustees (Daniel W. Kempner, R. Lee Kempner, Harris L. Kempner, I.H. Kempner, Jr., and Frances A. Lynch). Asset value began at $38,500; trustees approved grants to seven churches totaling $1,300.