The Behring Global Educational Foundation has been dedicated to improving the education, health and well-being of individuals globally by providing comprehensive, needs-based solutions enabled by innovative and proven business models and technologies.
The Behring Global Educational Foundation has been developed upon the tremendous success of the Wheelchair Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Kenneth E. Behring in 2000, now a sub-division of BGEF.
BGEF was established to identify, create and oversee multiple operations that specialize in providing aid to international health and educational related areas of need. With projects like the Wheelchair Foundation and the International Museums Partnership, BGEF is a united network of charitable organizations dedicated to eliminating suffering, providing hope, mobility and freedom and expanding basic education and economic development opportunities around the world.
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Kenneth E. Behring - Our Founder
The establishment of the Wheelchair Foundation marks the most recent chapter in Kenneth E. Behring’s philanthropic efforts to improve the lives of disadvantaged people around the world.
From his successful career as an automobile dealer in Wisconsin, Ken entered the world of real estate development in the 1960’s. Over the course of the next 35 years, his companies created numerous planned communities in Florida and California, including the world-renowned Blackhawk development near San Francisco, California, USA.
After purchasing the Seattle Seahawks football team in 1988, Ken established the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation, which benefited numerous children’s charities. The Seahawks Foundation was the most substantial donor to the Western Washington Muscular Dystrophy Association for many years.
Ken Behring founded the Blackhawk Museum and the Behring-Hofmann Educational Institute in Blackhawk, California, to benefit the San Francisco East Bay region. In 1997, he pledged $20 million to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and in 2000 he pledged an additional $80 million to rebuild the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. For only the fourth time in the Smithsonian’s 170-year history, the prestigious James Smithson Award was presented to Behring in recognition of his generosity and vision. The Blackhawk Museum is now an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and has hosted Smithsonian exhibits.
During his years of travel around the world, Ken has made it his personal mission to help those in need. His donations of food, medical supplies, clothing, toys and educational materials have helped people in some of the most impoverished nations on earth. His first-hand involvement has given him a realistic picture of how much help is needed worldwide.
In 1999, Ken donated shipments of wheelchairs to relief organizations in Eastern Europe and Africa. His personal contact with the recipients gave him a greater understanding of how much hope and happiness can be given to a person who receives a wheelchair. In the following months, he traveled the world delivering wheelchairs to numerous countries. On June 13, 2000 (his birthday), the Wheelchair Foundation was established at a ceremony in Washington, DC.
Since June of 2000, Ken has tirelessly traveled the world delivering tens of thousands of wheelchairs to the disabled citizens of five continents. The relationships he has developed with world leaders have led to a greater awareness of the needs and abilities of the physically disabled, and are a great force in propelling the mission of the Wheelchair Foundation. In 2002, Ken was awarded an honorary doctorate by Brigham Young University for his worldwide charitable efforts. Wheelchair Foundation has been lauded worldwide for it’s work. On June, 13, 2015 Wheelchair Foundation celebrated the donation of their 1,000,000th wheelchair.
Because of the Behring family’s love for American History, Behring Global Educational Foundation has also been supporting National History Day here in the United States. NHD is a comprehensive competition for elementary and high school students facilitating the discovery of the past, while helping students develop attributes that are critical for future success. NHD competitions involve tens of thousands of students nationwide every year.
For more than two decades, Behring Global Educational Foundation has been cooperating with Natural History Museums throughout Asia, to promote conservation and education. BGEF’s International Museums Partnership shares knowledge and provides Natural History specimens to new and established museums. Mr. Behring believes that education is the key to conservation in our modern world, and many exhibits and installations focus on the necessity of taking care of and learning from wildlife around us.
BGEF is also the primary sponsor of Global Natural History Day. Modeled on NHD, Global Natural History Day is primarily an international competition focusing on the discovery and understanding of the natural world. The principles of conservation and preservation are encouraged and related through participants real world projects. Winning participants and their educators have been sponsored on learning tours to the United States capitol, the Smithsonian Institute and other venues.
In 2015 Behring Global Educational Foundation opened The Spirit of the Old West exhibit at Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California. This exhibit is intended to education visitors about one of America’s most pivotal centuries and features artifacts from the 1790’s to the early 1900’s. Unique to this exhibit is a nearly 200’ long topographical display of the settlement of the West in miniature, believed to be one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Ken and Patricia, his wife of 60 years, reside in Blackhawk, California. They have five sons and ten grandchildren.