To develop, engage and recognize exceptional leaders who champion the American Idea.
The Jack Kemp Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to advancing the universal values of the American Idea of growth, freedom, democracy and hope. Each of our programs is intended to foster the spirit of leadership that Jack Kemp demonstrated, expand the impact of powerful ideas on public policy, and prepare a new generation of leaders who can translate principled ideas into action.
The Jack Kemp Foundation was originally created to preserve and provide access to Jack Kemp’s extensive collection of writings and correspondence as Congressman, Cabinet Secretary, and Vice Presidential candidate, originally under the custodianship of Pepperdine University.
After his death in May, 2009, however, the Foundation felt compelled to expand its mission. For his family, friends and colleagues, there was obviously a deep personal loss. But just as profound, it became very apparent that a voice and set of clearly thought-out ideas were now missing from the American scene. The Foundation recognized that Jack Kemp’s message and life’s work of articulating and promoting ideas about growth, democracy, freedom and hope needed to continue.
The first order of business was to preserve and advance Jack Kemp’s legacy and its impact on America’s political history and future. The Kemp Legacy Program grew out of a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, augmented by individual donors, and enriched through partnership with the Library of Congress, the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, and the Buffalo Bills. The Kemp Collection, now housed at the Library of Congress, a Kemp Chair also at the Library supporting research on the American Idea, and a wide-ranging oral history of his life and career, are ongoing near-term achievements of the Kemp Legacy Project.
But the Foundation and its Board were equally committed to looking forward even as we honor the past.
Throughout his life, Jack Kemp believed that sports were a microcosm of our society and our competitive way of life. The spirit of competition leads to productivity and requires cooperation, where both the weak and the strong succeed. In Kemp’s view, people are lifted up not only by their own efforts but by the inspiration and help they receive from those who achieve the highest.
Jack Kemp, as a former professional quarterback and head of a players’ association, devoted a great deal of his time to helping athletes become effective public servants. James Kemp, Foundation President, former professional athlete and Jack Kemp’s son, has continued this effort serving as a resource for athletes who aspire to careers in public service.
The Kemp Leadership Academy helps professional athletes who have leadership potential understand and refine their own political, economic and social views. Situated in Washington, D.C, the Academy offers an attractive location to develop and engage professional athletes as they transfer the lessons and values learned on the playing field to the political arena.
Jack Kemp was also a fierce advocate for the power of ideas, and especially for what he called The American Idea: The Declaration of Independence applies to every individual; everyone should have the same opportunity to rise as high as their talents and efforts can carry them; and while people move ahead, we should endeavor to leave no one behind.
With encouragement from a wide network of friends, supporters, and fellow advocates of the power of ideas, the Foundation established the Kemp Forum. The Kemp Forum provides a platform for the competition of ideas, inviting participants who bring passion, creativity, wisdom and civility to policy debates. Kemp Forum events range from small gatherings to larger conferences and include written contributions published through this website.
Jimmy Kemp is President of the Jack Kemp Foundation, which he established in 2009. Its mission is to develop, engage and recognize exceptional leaders who champion the American idea, beginning with the premise that the condition of your birth shouldn’t determine the outcome of your life.
Mr. Kemp co-founded and is the Managing Partner of Kemp Partners, a strategic consulting firm based in Washington DC. Established in 2002, Kemp Partners provides government relations and corporate affairs services to a diverse clientele. Mr. Kemp has represented Fortune 500 companies as well as burgeoning firms before Congress, the White House and several federal agencies.
He is also Executive Vice President of Group 47, a digital data storage company which is bringing to market a new archival media called DOTS (Digital Optical Technology System). DOTS enables digital files to be stored in easily readable form for over 100 years, even under conditions of benign neglect.
Mr. Kemp spent eight seasons as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League, finishing his career in 2001 with the Toronto Argonauts.
Mr. Kemp was the founding Board Chairman for Hope Community Charter School, located in northeast Washington DC. The school serves 735 pre-k through grade 8 students and has been operating since September 2005. Mr. Kemp is a graduate of Wake Forest University. He and his wife, Susan, have four boys and reside in Washington DC.
Michelle Van Cleave is Senior Advisor to the Jack Kemp Foundation and directs the Kemp Legacy Project. A lawyer and national security consultant in private life, she served as head of U.S. counterintelligence under President George W. Bush. Her first job in Washington DC was on Congressman Kemp’s staff, where she was Defense and Foreign Policy Assistant to Chairman Kemp and the House Republican Conference. Subsequently she held other senior staff positions in the Congress (including staff director, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information; Minority Counsel, House Science, Space and Technology Committee; and professional staff member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations), at the Pentagon coordinating homeland defense policy in the aftermath of 9/11, and in the White House Science Office, where she served as Assistant Director and General Counsel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Ms. Van Cleave sits on the Board of Directors of the Jamestown Foundation and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. She is a member of the bar of the State of California and the District of Columbia, and a Senior Fellow at George Washington University. She holds M.A. and B.A. degrees in International Relations from the University of Southern California, and a J.D. from the USC School of Law.