kernphotoTHE KERNS

In 1959, Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern founded a business in Waukesha, Wisconsin. They started with a unique idea: produce small, portable, home-powered generators. Despite setbacks, including a fire in 1967 that leveled the manufacturing plant, Generac Power Systems grew into one of the world’s largest independent manufacturers of complete engine-driven generator systems. Generac eventually employed thousands of people and became a prominent player in both the industrial and consumer markets. Over the years, the Kerns recognized that certain attributes contributed to the flourishing of their company, their customers, and their community.


After selling a division of Generac Power Systems in 1998, the Kerns established The Kern Family Foundation, a grant making organization dedicated to ensuring that the rising generation has access to the opportunities that made their success possible. In 2006, the Kerns sold the remainder of the business and used a significant portion of the profit to grow the Foundation.

In keeping with their vision, the Foundation enriches American lives by promoting the value of work, developing the formation of good character, increasing educational achievement – particularly in science, technology, engineering and math – and instilling an entrepreneurial mindset, especially in undergraduate engineering students.

The Foundation intentionally focuses on systemic change, rather than charity, by funding broad impact, long-term programs. You can learn more about our specific programs and networks here.