Funding & Grant Resources For Nonprofits Focused On Education

Maddie Zeigler, M.Ed.August 09, 2021

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Foundations in the United States focus their funding priorities on many different issues. If your nonprofit is seeking funding, it’s critical to identify the foundations whose interests and funding priorities align with your own. To assist in the arduous grant research process, I’ve created this list of grant resources and funders according to a specific funding focus area: education. 

Education is one of the more popular issues that many foundations focus on. The educational goals for the funders in this list include increasing postsecondary and higher learning opportunities, advancing innovation inside the classroom, engaging more students in the arts, and enhancing early childhood development, just to name a few. These organizations are currently offering grant and funding opportunities and/or accepting letters of inquiry or project ideas. 

Grant research tip: As you look over the list and peruse potential funders, take notes of those who best align with your work. Utilize this helpful document to build a profile for all potential funders with relevant information and contact information. Visit Grantli to learn more about how I do my grant research and how your own organization can find more appropriate funders and funding opportunities.

Funding Priority: Education

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon foundation seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. They work with colleges, universities, and other organizations that embrace equity in higher learning, with a focus on historically underserved populations, including nontraditional and incarcerated students. 

Areas served: Worldwide

Carnegie Corporation of New York

The Carnegie Corporation of New York—established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding—is one of America’s oldest grantmaking foundations. Their grantmaking aims to ensure that American public education prepares all students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to fully participate in democracy and thrive in the global economy. Their educational focus areas include new designs to advance learning, pathways to postsecondary success, leadership and teaching to advance learning, public understanding, and integration, learning, and innovation.

Areas served: Worldwide

Global Fund For Children

The Global Fund For Children believes that educating children and youth is the key to building a more peaceful and just society. They currently partner with 48 local organizations in 17 countries that work to secure equal educational access and high-quality education for all children. They provide education tailored to girls’ needs. early childhood development programs, supplemental learning opportunities, and innovative educational programming for indigenous children, migrants, refugees, child laborers, and children with disabilities.

Areas served: Worldwide

International Paper Foundation

International Paper Foundation (IP) makes sustainable investments to “protect and improve the lives of our employees and mobilize our people, products, and resources to address critical needs in the communities where we live and work.” They support strategic partners that focus on helping children succeed via a comprehensive approach to education. Literacy, particularly from birth through 3rd grade, is their primary focus because reading skills form the foundation for all childhood learning.

Areas served: Worldwide (only communities where IP has operations/employees)

State Street Foundation

State Street Foundation believes the most effective way to improve the overall well-being of our communities is to help disadvantaged individuals earn and make a living. By keeping a sharp focus on education and work, they hope to bring lasting economic benefits to communities worldwide.

Areas served: Worldwide

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation creates opportunities in education, health, and family economic stability for children and families living in urban poverty. Millions of children from low-income backgrounds don’t have the chance to attend a high-quality school. For those who do, unique challenges remain, making it harder for them to get to and through college. This foundation invests in closing these opportunity gaps so all students can pursue a quality education, providing a pathway to prosperity for them and their families.

Areas served: US, India, South Africa

The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing. They fund organizations and networks of institutions that prioritize improving the educational outcomes and experiences of the following students—people with low-incomes, especially those living in cities, and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, including first-generation, Black, Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, Native American, veterans, and immigrant students.

Areas served: US

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation supports nonprofits that are working to strengthen their hometown of Flint, Michigan, and communities around the world. They make education grants to help all children (especially those in underserved communities) develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they need to succeed in college, career pathways, and life. 

Areas served: US (limited worldwide)

Kars4Kids Foundation

The Kars4Kids Small Grant Program is dedicated to supporting educational initiatives around the country, helping to impact more children. They accept submissions from any US-based, IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations focused on work that benefits America’s children. Grants typically range from $500-$2,000, depending on such factors as mission alignment and availability of funds.

Areas served: US

Lumina Foundation

The Lumina Foundation believes that education provides the basis for individual opportunity, economic vitality, and social stability. With its partners, Lumina works toward a goal of 60 percent of Americans with a college degree, workforce certificate, or other high-quality credential beyond high school by 2025.

Areas served: US

The NEA Foundation

The National Education Association Foundation is a national nonprofit and philanthropic organization based in Washington, DC. Founded by educators, their mission is to work in partnership with others to promote the absolute best in public education. They believe that the most innovative and effective policies and strategies emanate from educators engaged in authentic partnership with policymakers, students, parents, and others who are committed to educational equity, excellence, and opportunity.

Areas served: US

Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation

The purpose of the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation is to support charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational endeavors, either directly or by contributions to organizations.

Areas served: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas

Robin Hood

Robin Hood is New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization. For over thirty years, they’ve been finding, fueling, and creating the most impactful and scalable solutions to lift families out of poverty in New York City. They partner with over 250 nonprofits to provide food, housing, education, legal services, workforce development, and more to New Yorkers living in poverty across all five boroughs.

Areas served: New York City

Daniels Fund

The Daniels Fund focuses on supporting highly effective and ethical nonprofit organizations that achieve significant results in the community. Their education funding priorities focus on early childhood education and K-12 education. 

Areas served: Colorado, Wyoming

The Denver Foundation

The Denver Foundation’s first Community Grants cycle is now open to applications. Through the Community Grants Program, The Denver Foundation supports nonprofits that serve the seven-county Metro Denver area, advance constituent engagement and racial equity, and align with their priority funding areas (including education).

Areas served: Denver/Colorado

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation invests in organizations that demonstrate a commitment to creating value in education. The education program’s developmental target is the first eight years of life. They aim to build upon state efforts to develop a more seamless, well-functioning, and effective early childhood system. Their strategic focus of leaders, teachers, and families also incorporates support for one of the strongest early childhood policy and advocacy networks in the nation.

Areas served: Illinois

California Community Foundation

The California Community Foundation believes that the prosperity of Los Angeles County depends on a well-educated workforce and realizing the potential of future generations. They aim to address disparities in student achievement, college readiness, and college success for low-income, minority, and English-learner students, throughout the education pipeline, countywide.

Areas served: Los Angeles/California

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation works with communities to build and support programs that boost entrepreneurship, improve education, and contribute to the vibrancy of Kansas City. The overall goal of the education strategy is that students of all ages in Kansas City are prepared for learning, work, and life after graduation, enabling them to be economically independent, contributing members of their communities. They focus on five main areas in service of their strategy: postsecondary, K-12, early childhood education, teachers and leaders, and community engagement.

Areas served: Kansas City/Missouri

The Skillman Foundation

Through grantmaking and relationship building, The Skillman Foundation leverages networks of champions who share a vision of equity in school and outside of it, where all kids have access to the support they need to thrive. By placing children at the center of this movement, their well-being becomes the focus of their collective work, and with it comes higher achieving students, highly engaged young people, and a brighter future for Detroit.

Areas served: Detroit/Michigan

Oregon Community Foundation

The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) has delivered three decades of proactive education investments and program development, along with advocacy, research, and strategic partnerships. OCF’s education programs, partnerships, and initiatives focus on early childhood, K-12, and access to postsecondary education and training where investments make the most impact.

Areas served: Oregon

Arizona Community Foundation

The Arizona Community Foundation and its statewide affiliates harness the collective generosity of thousands of Arizonans. Funding is awarded year-round for a variety of uses, including general operating support, programmatic support, and capacity building. While most grants are made in Arizona, grants may be made nationally as well.

Areas served: Arizona (limited US)

Baltimore Community Foundation

The Baltimore Community Foundation is a philanthropic foundation created by and for the people of Greater Baltimore, where passionate people join together to make the region they love a better place, today and for future generations, with the long-term goals of strengthening schools and neighborhoods.

Areas served: Baltimore/Maryland

The Boston Foundation

The Boston Foundation is the largest public charity and the largest grantmaker in New England. With an emphasis on education, they have a wish that all Greater Boston residents can access the education, training, and resources they will need to succeed in our regional economy, with an emphasis on early childhood, K-12, and college completion.

Areas served: Boston/Massachusetts

Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc.’s education grantmaking supports programs in Indiana on an invitational basis that promote high-quality early childhood education, strengthen K-12 education, prepare students for education and careers beyond high school, connect college students and graduates with meaningful employment opportunities in Indiana, enhance the effectiveness of Indiana colleges and universities to prepare their students for successful lives and careers, and build the state’s intellectual capital. If you believe your charitable organization has a request that fits within their guidelines, they suggest that you send them by regular mail a preliminary letter of no more than two pages. The letter should tell them about your organization, the project you have in mind, the issue or need you seek to address and the amount of support you will need from them.

Areas served: Indianapolis/Indiana

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