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Thank you for visiting

Thank you for visiting the Kirkpatrick Philanthropies' website. From here, you will learn more about the Kirkpatrick Foundation and the Kirkpatrick Family Fund; what it is that sets them apart, and their unique missions, values, and purposes as philanthropic foundations focusing primarily on philanthropy in central Oklahoma.

Unlike other foundations, the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s specific focus is on the arts, arts education, and the environment. The Kirkpatrick Family Fund’s focus has a much broader spectrum of philanthropy, but in particular the Fund has a specialty in the area of building endowments. I urge you to look at our grant guidelines and learn more about this area of expertise for the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

I hope that you will also take a moment to read about two of our primary efforts – the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s important work in making Oklahoma the safest and most humane place to be an animal in the United States, as well as the Kirkpatrick Family Fund’s effort to reduce teen pregnancy in central Oklahoma by 33 percent by the year 2020.

Lastly, I’d like to thank you. Whatever your purpose is for visiting our site, whether it’s out of curiosity, or seeking a grant, or as someone looking to contribute to one of the organizations we’re involved with – thank you for being a philanthropic partner.

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Sincerely,
Christian Keesee
Chairman, Kirkpatrick Foundation
President, Kirkpatrick Family Fund

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History

For more than 60 years, the Kirkpatrick family has been on the leading edge of philanthropy, recognizing and nurturing the seeds of good ideas by providing thoughtful leadership and financial support to countless charitable, civic and cultural causes that have impacted generations in central Oklahoma and beyond.

Our Legacy

The Kirkpatrick Foundation and the Kirkpatrick Family Fund benefit from the foresight established by its founders John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick – and their daughter, Joan Kirkpatrick – who believed a strong cultural and service community would benefit central Oklahoma well into the future, and a broad approach to giving would address the diverse needs of the community. To carry out their vision, John and Eleanor established the Kirkpatrick Foundation in 1955, provided leadership for the formation of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in 1969 and established the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, the largest affiliated fund at the Community Foundation, in 1989.

Today, through the leadership of Christian Keesee, grandson of John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick, the Kirkpatrick Foundation and Kirkpatrick Family Fund continue to honor their legacy and guiding principles by addressing needs to strengthen the cultural landscape, health and well-being of the community.

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Community Investments

Prominent civic leaders in Oklahoma City since the 1940s, the Kirkpatrick family has given much to the communities and state of Oklahoma through their generosity and philanthropy, including multiple arts and education organizations. Their works are continued today through the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and Kirkpatrick Foundation.

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Oklahoma City Ballet

Formed originally as the Oklahoma City Civic Ballet by the Oklahoma Science and Arts Foundation with the Kirkpatrick family as primary benefactors, the company produced its first performance of The Nutcracker on February 26, 1963. Company founders, Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, were artistic directors for the company until 1973 and their efforts were greatly supported by John Kirkpatrick. The Civic Ballet was the forerunner of Ballet Oklahoma, which preceded what is today known as the Oklahoma City Ballet.

Yvonne Chouteau was one of the "Five Moons," or Native prima ballerinas from Oklahoma and at age 14 became the youngest dancer ever accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. At age 18,  Chouteau became the youngest member inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. 

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Oklahoma City Zoo

The Kirkpatrick family’s involvement with the Oklahoma City Zoo began in 1963 when John Kirkpatrick became president of Friends of the Zoo, which had not been active for many years. By 1976, the Zoological Society membership had risen to 2,333 individuals and the Zoo at that time had 100 acres of natural rolling terrain and 140 animals representing 30 rare endangered species. John Kirkpatrick oversaw the significant achievement of the transfer of control of the Zoo from the city to the Zoological Trust, a public trust of the State of Oklahoma that is the governing authority of the Oklahoma City Zoological Park with the City of Oklahoma City as beneficiary. 

In 2015, the Kirkpatrick family celebrated the opening of the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital, a state-of-the-art animal hospital that allows access to visitors and provides veterinary staff the tools and space needed to provide the very best treatment to the wild animals entrusted to the Oklahoma City Zoo’s care.

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Lyric Theatre

On November 7, 1962, fourteen prominent Oklahomans gathered at the Beacon Club to discuss the idea of forming a professional theater company and John Kirkpatrick became president of the Oklahoma City Lyric Theatre. In 1963, 25,000 patrons attended the six-week inaugural season. John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick helped the organization learn to stand on its own two feet by encouraging the company to invest in itself through an endowment fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. By its 25th year in 1986, Lyric was earning 80 percent of its income and acquiring the rest through donors.

John Kirkpatrick holding the first idea sketches for Lyric Theatre, circa 1973.

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Science Museum Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Science and Arts Foundation, later known as the Omniplex, was established in 1958 and included a permanent dome named the Kirkpatrick Planetarium. In 1978, the Kirkpatrick Center opened on the site of the current location of Science Museum Oklahoma. John Kirkpatrick later reflected that the Kirkpatrick Center was destined to become the home of the Omniplex, the Oklahoma Air and Space Museum, the International Photography Hall of Fame, and the Red Earth Indian Center.

Science Museum Oklahoma was made possible largely through the support and generosity of the Kirkpatrick family.

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Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, formed in 1989 as City Arts Center by Christian Keesee and Kirkpatrick Foundation Director Marilyn Myers, is a nonprofit organization committed to providing the community with quality, accessible and affordable arts programming and education. The organization was the recipient of the first grant ever awarded by the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and plays a key role in the development of Oklahoma City’s visual arts landscape.

Scheduled to open in 2018, the new arts campus will be located at 11th and Broadway and is anticipated to become the newest cultural and contemporary art destination in the region. Uniquely situated in the center of Oklahoma City's "Innovation District," the new Oklahoma Contemporary will be a distinctive north gateway to downtown Oklahoma City's famous Automobile Alley. 

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Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Founded in 1910 as the Oklahoma Art League, the museum fell on hard times as federal funding for the arts disappeared during WWII. In response, local artist and OAL member Nan Sheets approached Eleanor Kirkpatrick to organize the first Beaux Arts Ball to raise funds for the Oklahoma Art Center, which was incorporated in 1945. Ms. Sheets became the first director and continued to be a prominent funder of the organization for many years. In 1958, John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick were lead benefactors toward the construction of the Oklahoma Art Center building at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. In 1989, the Oklahoma Museum of Art and the Oklahoma Art Center merged to become the Oklahoma City Art Museum. 

Today, OCMA currently owns the largest, most comprehensive collection of Chihuly glass in the world, including a 55-foot-tall tower, commissioned for the atrium of the new facility in memory of Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick.

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