Michael & Karen Vukets Family Foundation
A remarkable and often overlooked side of philanthropy isn’t the action of giving in itself, but rather leading by example for your children.
In recent years, the post-transition success rate among affluent families in North America has dwindled to just 30%. The roots of this problem is lack of communication, trust and misalignment of family values.
So in 2009, after three decades in estate planning, tax integration and intergenerational wealth transfers, Michael and Karen Vukets decided to start a family foundation.
The external mission of the foundation was to empower children and youth to achieve emotional and economic resilience; supporting innovative programs focused on education, the arts, healthcare and faith communities.
"Karen and I are very fortunate to be in a position to invest in social change. The causes we support are built on the same principles of looking through the end users lens to understand what it takes for programs to create positive social change."
— Michael Vukets
The internal mission of the foundation was to start a discussion with children at the very young age about the importance of looking outward to positively impact others, the community and society.
"We believe in the power of the family unit, especially the development of a strong sense of family unity. Through the unified lens of the family foundation and the initiatives we support, we now look to provide other children and families with the tools for success and personal growth."
— Karen Vukets
The crucial part of starting a foundation is getting the whole family to agree on the shared guiding values. Truly effective and rewarding philanthropy must reflect and be driven by core values and concerns. For the Vukets family, these values are:
Our Foundation is a tool that unites our family. We define success by looking outward to positively impact others, our community and society.
"When you reach for the moon, you live among the stars."
We strive to dream big. Our journey is focused and disciplined.
We focus our giving to be significant and impactful. Making a meaningful difference is an important part of our decision making.
We challenge ourselves to always bring new perspectives, fresh ideas and new thinking to identify needs and solutions.
Our philanthropic investment incorporates accountability, measurability and scalability. These criteria are essential for transformational impact.
With the guiding values agreed upon, the Vukets family discussed and explored the causes that were close to their hearts. The four directions they chose were arts, education, healthcare and faith.
"It concerns me that arts programs are being taken out of public schools. Throughout my years of teaching dance, I have learned that every single student has a different way of learning. Each student should be given an opportunity to artistically express themselves in school, which they might not be able to do in other traditional subjects."
— Karlee Vukets
"Family and friends are everything. The causes we support are particularly geared to strengthening families’ health and wellbeing, education, and the protection of women and children. We also support causes related to animals—those that cannot speak for themselves."
— Riley Keast
Led by Michael & Karen, the Vukets family is deeply invested in philanthropy. Most importantly, the family’s second generation is now finding their own causes and enthusiastically going after them as well.