MARQUETTE — Each year, Marquette Area Public Schools hosts their annual Kaufman Academic Awards to recognize eighth and twelfth graders for their high achievements. But this year’s ceremony recognized an outstanding couple with the first–ever Lifetime of Giving Award.

“We’re selfish because we get a great deal of satisfaction in the very small part that we play in this community.”

Peter and Audrey Kaufman are often called the ‘children’s cheerleaders,’ as they have dedicated their lives to giving back. The couple is currently running the L.G. Kaufman Foundation, which was established decades ago by Peter’s grandfather. The foundation is often recognized for its large donation to MAPS — a donation that provides scholarships for the students.

Each year, the total sum comes in at around $80,000, putting the grand total in the millions since the foundation’s inception. The scholarship program has expanded under Peter and Audrey’s leadership to recognize students for their academic accomplishments, as well as other aspects like citizenship, fine arts and athletics.

“You can follow your passion, it doesn’t have to be strictly from the grade point. So you can be a leader in your own particular field of passion and be rewarded for that,” said MAPS Superintendent Bill Saunders, “you can be an aspiring art student, you don’t have to be a 4.0 aspiring art student, but you can be recognized for the fact that you do have a passion for that particular curriculum.”

The Kaufman’s have used the foundation to contribute funds for school renovations, teaching supplies and field trip budgets.
They are also the founders of Coats for Kids, which gives necessary winter attire to children of modest means. When asked why they do what they do, the Kaufman’s gave just one reason.

“It’s to benefit the children of this area, which is very important to us. It’s one of the most valuable assets we have up here are children,” said Peter Kaufman, “so the point that we can create a motivating element, and some of them are just incredible in their capabilities and the recognition they receive at the awards ceremony just makes you very, very proud.”

For these reasons, the Kaufman’s were the ideal candidates for recognition by MAPS. “I felt it important to show our appreciation to Peter and Audrey Kaufman. They continue to give and ask for nothing in return,” added Saunders.

“They value education and they know for real change in our culture, it really comes from education. They recognize that and they support that in any way that they can.”

A plaque will be hung in their honor in the Kaufman auditorium at Graveraet.