history of KDK-Harman Foundation

KDK-Harman Foundation was established in 2004 by Janet E. Harman. Janet named the family philanthropy in honor of her three children, Kevin, David, and Kelly. She endowed the private family foundation with over $26 million. KDK-Harman Foundation was created to support educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged students and their families. According to Janet, “Education is an essential means towards achieving financial independence and enabling a better life for families and their future generations.  A better educated society will result in lower crime rates, a reduction to the burdened healthcare system, and increased economic productivity”.

The Foundation’s first grants in 2005 provided support to educational programs in Austin, Texas, the home of the Harman family. The KDK-Harman Foundation has since expanded its reach to include seven central Texas counties.

Through its research the Foundation found that, in Central Texas, gaps in student achievement between different racial/ethnic and income groups begin showing up in kindergarten. Central Texas data show that TAKS passing rates of different subpopulations are relatively close in 3rd grade, but widen by 5th grade.  By 8th grade, there are large disparities with Black, Hispanic and Low Income students passing at rates 30-40 percentage points lower than white students (E3 Alliance).

With this knowledge, the Foundation decided to focus its grantmaking on closing the achievement gap that exists between economically disadvantaged children and their higher income peers in Central Texas to ensure that all students receive an excellent education. Access to quality education programming can improve school readiness and subsequent chances for school success, financial independence, and social stability. In other words, KDK-Harman Foundation believes that education is the great equalizer. This isn’t a temporary fix, but a long-term solution to breaking the cycle of poverty.

​In sum, the KDK-Harman Foundation’s long-term desired impact is to close achievement gaps for low-income students in Central Texas, preparing them with 21st Century skills and access to quality careers, therefore, breaking the cycle of poverty for them and future generations. We seek to do this by improving student achievement beginning in the primary grades and particularly in math and science, raising graduation rates, and ensuring students are prepared for post-secondary success.