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


When Generac Power Systems sold a division of the company in 1998, the Kerns established The Kern Family Foundation, dedicated to providing the rising generation with access to the same opportunities they had. In 2006, the Kerns sold the balance of the business and directed a significant portion of the profits to grow the Foundation.

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

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