Ed and Darlene Lowe established the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1985 to leverage entrepreneurship as a strategy for economic growth and community development. In contrast to most U.S. foundations, which are grant-giving entities, we are an operating foundation that funds its own programs.
Our entrepreneurship initiatives are focused on second-stage companies — growth-oriented firms that have moved beyond startup but haven’t yet reached maturity. Our peer learning, leadership education and strategic information programs are geared to help these companies continue growing. We also educate communities about the unique challenges second-stagers face, how to work with them — and how to develop the kind of culture they need to flourish.
To scale our impact, the foundation delivers its programs to second-stagers through other entrepreneur support organizations, which includes chambers of commerce, small business development centers, technology councils and economic development agencies. Although many programs are conducted on our partners’ turf, such as PeerSpectives CEO roundtables and Economic Gardening, we host leader retreats and facilitator training at Big Rock Valley (BRV), our headquarters in southwest Michigan.
BRV is also integral in our land stewardship initiatives. A 2,000-acre property comprised of woodlands, wetlands and prairies, BRV’s diverse habitats support a wide variety of species, many of which are endangered or threatened. To preserve BRV’s environmental integrity, the foundation employs a number of innovative land management practices. In addition, we allow researchers to use the property for studies that can expand the knowledge base of conservation science.
What people are saying...
“Entering second stage gives you an instant reputation for success — and with that begins a barrage of inquiries from people that either want to collaborate with you or tell you about a great opportunity or system that your company ‘can’t live without.’ This includes consultants, business assistance programs and CEO groups. Yet there’s a great mismatch—most of the resources that come your way are geared for startups. The resources that actually help are about one out of 100 — and the Edward Lowe Foundation is among that 1 percent.
— Scott Foster, president of Wellco Corp. in Royal Oak, Michigan