The Spencers’ Philanthropy: Youth Organizations

Kenneth Spencer was particularly concerned with supporting youth-based organizations. For example, he founded Junior Achievement of Kansas City in the mid-1950s and supported 4-H, the Boy Scouts, and other organizations focused on training civic-spirited adults. Helen continued supporting youth organizations and individual youths after Kenneth’s death, both through personal funds and contributions from the Foundation.


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Certificate of appreciation, Boy Scouts of America to Kenneth Spencer, October 8, 1958

Helen continued Kenneth’s support of the Boy Scouts, contributing funds toward a Scout Service Center and other projects after his passing.


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Letters, Reverend Kenneth Yates, St. Francis Boys’ Homes, to Helen Spencer, March 22, 1972 (first page) and March 21, 1972 (second page)

Charitable organizations frequently wrote to Helen explaining why they needed help and providing a breakdown of costs. She sometimes supported individuals, either youths at boys’ homes as discussed in these letters or college students embarking on careers in the arts.


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Draft news release, Junior Achievement News, spring 1969

Kenneth was instrumental in bringing Junior Achievement to the Kansas City area in 1955. The organization’s purpose is to help youth succeed. Helen privately – and through the Foundation – continued to support Junior Achievement, including through this major gift to purchase a building for its new headquarters.

Helen was always particular about how her gifts and those made by the Foundation were announced. Based on Helen’s comments, Junior Achievement staff revised this press release at least one more time before sending it to newspapers.


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Scrapbook, “In Appreciation to Kenneth Spencer,” 1953-1954

Spencer Chemical Company provided scholarships for youths to attend 4-H Camp at Rock Springs Ranch in Junction City, Kansas. Expressing their gratitude to Kenneth, the students created this scrapbook of thank-you letters, photographs, and other related items. Helen and the Foundation later provided major funds for the Spencer Auditorium, part of the new Citizenship Center built at the ranch in the 1970s.