History of the Walter Kaitz Foundation

Our Story

In 1981, thanks to the generous financial contributions made possible by the late Walter Kaitz, the Walter Kaitz Foundation became the first of its kind in the media industry – a non-profit organization devoted to providing recruitment opportunities for people of color in the cable industry.  Since 1981, the Foundation has supported the people and programs that make diversity in the cable industry a priority. We grow and evolve with the cable industry, changing our programs to meet the needs of cable’s changing landscape.

Milestones

1980s
During its formative years, the cable industry embraced a commitment to be early practioners of diversity and inclusion and worked to establish a foundation focused on integrating its executive suites with people of color who reflected the diversity of its customers.

Initially, the Foundation provided a year-long fellowship program for professionals of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and women seeking to transition as executives into the cable industry. The professional backgrounds of the individuals selected to participate in the program included MBAs, attorneys, engineers and individuals who represented a broad array of other professions.

1990s
In the 1990’s, the Foundation expanded its thriving Fellowship Program to a focus on permanent executive career placement that included professional development, networking and mentoring opportunities.  At the end of decade, more than sixty-five percent of the Kaitz Fellows and Alumni in the industry were Vice Presidents or Directors or held managerial positions.

As more companies within the cable industry began to establish stronger internal diversity recruitment efforts, the role of the Kaitz Foundation shifted to better assist with growing diversity initiatives.

2000s
By 2001, the Fellowship Program was discontinued with the focus shifting to overseeing an industry-wide supplier diversity program, a broad grants-giving program and a community outreach program.  By 2004, the Foundation launched an industry-wide supplier diversity initiative and increased its outreach to community organizations.

Three years later, the Foundation relocated from California to Washington, D.C. and began to narrowly focus its distribution of grants to The Emma L. Bowen Foundation, the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT). These three organizations focused primarily on internships, leadership development and mentoring for ethnic minorities and women in the cable industry.

2010s
In the last decade, the Walter Kaitz Foundation has become the official diversity arm of the telecommunications industry.  Each year, the Foundation bestows grants in excess of $1 million to support initiatives and programs that promote diversity and inclusion.

One unremitting aspect of the organization has been the annual fundraising dinners, which started in 1984 with an event held in the Empire Room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.  Since then, the Annual Fundraising Dinner has become the centerpiece of what is now known as “Diversity Week,” a series of cable industry events that take advantage of the conglomeration of colleagues in New York.