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Kirkpatrick Family Affiliated Fund: Partnering to Foster the Arts, and so Much More

Dec 21, 2023 | Community, Philanthropy

Adult and Teen Ballet class taught by Olivier Muñoz of Oklahoma City Ballet’s Yvonne Chouteau School.
Photo Credit: Jana Carson

Oklahoma City Community Foundation founders John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick had a vision for a strong, happy and healthy community built on a foundation that valued access to the arts and art experiences. For more than 30 years, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, administered by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, has carried on this legacy.

Under the leadership of the Kirkpatrick’s grandson, Christian Keesee, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund continues to impact the arts, awarding nearly $6 million to more than 60 arts organizations in fiscal year 2023. Focusing on programs centered around active learning and imagination, the creative process and enriching the vibrancy of our community, they partnered with a robust group of new and innovative programs this year.

A longtime leader in the Oklahoma City arts movement, Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center provides accessible arts education programs unlike anywhere else in the metro. This year, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund was excited to continue their partnership with the Arts Center to help bring their vision for the arts to life. From classes that bring unique perspectives to Studio School students to collaborations with groups like the Oklahoma City Repertory Theater and SPARK! Creative Lab, the Arts Center encourages creativity and inspires visitors every day.

This year, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund also took their support of the arts to a new level, starting the OK Let’s Dance initiative to celebrate the joy of dance and movement and increase the availability, accessibility and awareness of dance in central Oklahoma. In its pilot year, they partnered with the Plaza District Association’s Calderón Dance Festival, engaging all ages with free lessons at every skill level and featuring performances by local and national groups, including headliner Ballet Hispánico’s second company BH Dos of New York.

In fiscal year 2023, the fund also had the opportunity to invest in the future of young people and young organizations. The STEAM Engine works to bridge Oklahoma’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce gap, especially among underrepresented communities. Through partnerships with Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County, Freedom City and Urban Bridge and with the support of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, they were able to incorporate an arts-integrated curriculum for their after-school and summer programs, developing ten units they will use with tens of thousands of elementary students as the STEAM Engine scales statewide.

Working together makes all of us stronger, and these grantees underscore the impact we can make through collaboration, a network of support and a shared vision. John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick established the Kirkpatrick Family Fund in 1989 with the mission to invest in ideas, leadership and programs that contribute to and advance the cultural, intellectual and societal interests of our community. To date, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund has pursued this mission across many areas of need, contributing more than $164 million through project, operating and endowment-building grants.

2023 Annual Report

To see this story and more, view our 2023 Impact Report.