Commonwealth Fund for KET, Inc.

Where Learning Comes to Life

Lexington, KY   |  KET.org

Mission

To make Kentucky a better place and strengthen its communities by educating, inspiring, informing and connecting its citizens through communications technologies and the power of public media.

Ruling year info

1995

President

Michele Ripley

Main address

560 Cooper Drie

Lexington, KY 40502 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

61-1285473

NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

KET was founded with the single purpose to equalize educational resources and opportunities for all of Kentucky’s citizens. Our goal was to deliver classroom instruction into every school in Kentucky. In 1968, the switch was flipped to power-up KET, and the state’s largest educational institution was born. PBS’ first broadcast programs, Sesame Street and Masterpiece Theatre, followed. At the heart of KET’s role as a proud public servant is education—our middle name. For 7.3 million home viewers, KET’s broadcast programs open a window to lifelong learning, the discovery of new ideas and perspectives, and a world of possibilities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Annual Costs to Fund Local and National Broadcasts

KET is Kentucky's only statewide television network and provides 4 channels digitally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: KET broadcasts high-definition KET and PBS programming; KET2 broadcasts how-to, travel, and lifelong learning programs along with PBS encores; KETKY broadcasts programs about Kentucky issues, heritage, history, and culture; and KET PBS KIDS offers safe, non-violent, educational PBS KIDS programming 24/7. Thanks to KET's 16 transmitters connecting our communities, KET's signal reaches 7.3 million viewers in Kentucky and areas of the seven surrounding states. KET also produces more local programming than all other Kentucky commercial stations combined. All programs are available for sponsorship.

It is the charge of the Commonwealth Fund for KET to raise, manage, and maintain a reliable source of funding essential for the purchase and production of programs that ensure, extend, and enhance KET’s value as an educational, cultural, and communications resource for all Kentuckians. The Commonwealth Fund for KET distributes $3+ million to KET for PBS programming and other public television acquisitions annually.

Population(s) Served
Adults

KET enjoys a stellar reputation nationally for excellence across the Public Broadcasting System. It is widely understood throughout the industry that KET is a flagship, a celebrated leader, and among its accolades, KET's commitment to local productions is unmatched since KET produces more local productions than any other PBS station. To ensure a stable funding source that guarantees in perpetuity local production capacity and ensures access to a lifelong learning gift for all our citizens and students, we have established the Kentucky Productions Endowment.

KET's local productions celebrate, preserve, and share stories about the people, places, and heritage of Kentucky. These stories remind all Kentuckians of what makes this Commonwealth richly distinctive. May these stories inspire ideas, make connections, and help the youth to carry on the legacy to preserve a very special place in this world.

Each of KET's 4 restricted endowments funds is managed by independent advisors to ensure optimal growth and annual distributions of interest income for initiatives proposed by KET management and approved by the Commonwealth Fund for KET Board of Directors, as fiduciary agents. The budget reported below reflects the current fiscal year's distribution of interest income for approved initiatives.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Established in 1993 with a $2 million goal and a lead challenge gift from Lucille Little, this fund supports early childhood arts education. Mrs. Little's gift, the largest donation in KET history at the time, was matched by other private donations over five years, including the Steele-Reese Foundation. Its purpose is to develop creativity in children 12 years and younger through KET broadcast and online fine arts content, and professional development resources for teachers, childcare providers, and parents.

Each of KET's 4 restricted endowments funds is managed by independent advisors to ensure optimal growth and annual distributions of interest income for initiatives proposed by KET management and approved by the Commonwealth Fund for KET Board of Directors, as fiduciary agents. The budget reported below reflects the current fiscal year's distribution of interest income for approved initiatives.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

To honor KET’s founder in a meaningful way, this fund was publicly launched during KET’s 30th-anniversary celebration in 1998 with a $1 million goal. Mr. Press’s dream of a public forum that advances education and citizenship has grown into the nation’s largest public television network. Today, public affairs programming like Kentucky Tonight and Comment on Kentucky remains a priority hallmark of KET’s local production capacity, and this endowment will make possible nightly, statewide news coverage; more timely, regional special reports; original profiles about key figures in Kentucky’s public life; multi-media formats yet to be conceived; toolkits for use in civics, history and journalism classrooms; and the preservation of the state’s largest digital library of the powerful, pundits, issues and opinions. To strengthen and secure Mr. Press’s legacy when he, his admirers, his peers, and those he served could appreciate it, subsequent campaigns were launched in 2002 and on Mr. Press’s 90th birthday in 2011. In 2019, KET lost its North Star just weeks after this fund’s initial payout.

Each of KET's 4 restricted endowments funds is managed by independent advisors to ensure optimal growth and annual distributions of interest income for initiatives proposed by KET management and approved by the Commonwealth Fund for KET Board of Directors, as fiduciary agents. The budget reported below reflects the current fiscal year's distribution of interest income for approved initiatives.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Commonwealth Fund for KET aims to support and further the educational, charitable and public purposes and activities of KET. KET produces and provides innovative and relevant programs and services, giving all citizens access to in-depth information and to cultural and educational opportunities.

Initially, the primary avenue for giving - and still the most viable - was through TeleFund, the annual on-air pledge drive held in March. Even with the addition of the year-end WinterPledge in 2004, KET pledges some 25 days on air, far less than the average 63 days across the PBS system. In recent years, 50% of the callers during both drives have been new donors to KET, meaning these drives maintain one of KET's most effective acquisition tools. Approximately 20% of total revenue derives from on-air pledge drives. The core of today's balanced development program includes the annual Membership campaign that incorporates renewal, lapsed, additional gift and acquisition direct mail and telemarketing (gifts of $1-$499). Additional components of this campaign are the Family Fun Club, offering children's activities for some 2000 families, and Group Memberships. Membership gifts represent the majority of our donors and some 30% of total earned income. The Fund for Excellence giving society was created in 1981 to recognize annual major donors, though the base level has changed from $1000 to $1200; it is our oldest and most prestigious recognition program. Also part of the giving pipeline is the Cornerstone Society which recognizes mid-level donors of $500 to $999. The Legacy Circle includes bequests, trusts and other planned giving vehicles that enable others to remember KET in their estate planning. Incorporating restricted major giving opportunities, the Fund has established three endowments to ensure KET's mission and services in perptuity: the Lucille Caudill Little Arts Endowment for early childhood arts education, the O. Leonard Press 21st Century Fund for civic engagement, and the Endowment for Kentucky Productions for local programs. Today, major annual and restricted gifts represent some 30% of total contributed income; the system average is 6%. In FY2000, long after the system embraced the strategy, the Commonwealth Fund began accepting broadcast Underwriting gifts for programs. Corporations and foundations can support KET philanthropically and gain marketing benefits as well. The Fund manages some 15-20 Special Events annually across the state to engage KET donors and prospects in unique KET experiences. While few of these are fundraising events like Summer Celebration, which is in its 26th year, other cultivation events hold untold fundraising dividends in the future.

The Commonwealth Fund for KET owns the property at 560 Cooper Drive and leases 10 staff persons from the KET Foundation. They are given the same benefits and are subject to the same rules and restrictions as the other KET state and foundation employees.

KET has grown into a transformational force in education, citizenship, and culture. For over 50 years, KET’s programs and services have nurtured the human mind and spirit; encouraged independent thought; connected people, places and traditions; and strengthened families and communities.

Today, as the largest public television network in the country, the second largest in the world, KET reaches every Kentucky school and 7.3 million viewers in eight states daily. One founding principal differentiates KET from all others: Education.

Financials

Commonwealth Fund for KET, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Commonwealth Fund for KET, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 6/22/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Nick Nicholson

Retired/Keeneland Association, Inc., President

Term: 2020 - 2021

Mira Ball

Ball Homes Inc.

Vickie Brown

Frost Brown Todd LLC

Rusty Cheuvront

Brown-Forman Corporation

John Domaschko

MC Squared

Kimberly Patton

Elevar Design Group

William T. Young, Jr.

W. T. Young Inc

Nick Nicholson

Keeneland

William Jones

US BANK

Donna Moore

Civic Leader

Hilma Prather

Civic Leader

Shae Hopkins

Kentucky Educational Television

D.R. Ball

Ball Homes, Inc.

Melissa Chastain

Spalding University

Jean Dorton

KET Friends Board

Dan Griffith

Owensboro Symphony Orchestra

John Hall

KET Chairman Emeritus

Nana Lampton

Hardscuffle, Inc.

Michael Owsley

English, Lucas, Priest, and Owsley, LLP

Melanie Glasscock Simpson

KV Oil

Biff Campbell

University of Kentucky College of Law

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 06/22/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data