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Improving Community Education

This program area seeks to ensure that education serves as a pathway out of poverty by advancing systemic changes that improve educational policies and practices, particularly for children and families living in low-income communities.

Funding is made under three objectives.

Funding priorities for Community-Driven Reform

Grantmaking under this objective works from the premise that unequal education is both a cause and an effect of poverty. We support groups working to address the causes of inequitable education — powerlessness, lack of opportunities, poverty and its effects, high dropout rates, achievement gaps and inadequate schools.

This approach intentionally builds power in poor communities, enabling parents, students and community members to work as equal partners in changing the culture of individual schools and of the broader community to improve educational equity. The grantmaking seeks to strengthen the field of education organizing by identifying and expanding use of best practices, drawing attention to the educational impact and increasing the number of participants and supporters.

We seek effective community-driven reform strategies that increase student achievement across entire school districts and at the state or regional level. We are making grants:

  • To support community organizations working for community-identified reforms at the district, state or regional levels.
  • For research and technical assistance to community organizations involved in education reform.
  • To support a six-year, eight-site study of community-driven reform and student achievement, and to support the dissemination of those findings.

Funding priorities for Vulnerable Youth

Grantmaking under this objective is centered on improving the reconnection points to education for dropouts and near dropouts. We are focused on strengthening and improving program models, policies and field efforts that create successful and multiple pathways for vulnerable youth who have dropped out of school and not connected to relevant systems.

We seek policies and practices that ensure that vulnerable youth are prepared for college and careers. We are making grants:

  • To organizations providing programs that ensure dropouts can connect to pathways that lead to a diploma, postsecondary options and labor-market success.
  • To organizations and institutions advancing policy innovations to ensure that public systems serve dropouts and other underserved students more effectively.
  • To support efforts that bring greater attention to the needs and issues of dropouts and students at risk of dropping out of school.

Click here to view the 10 most recent grants for this program area.

Funding priorities for Learning Beyond the Classroom

Grantmaking under this objective seeks to provide optimum opportunities for academic support and enrichment for young people to learn and develop both in school, summer and after school. Central to this effort are partnerships between school and community-based organizations and other local institutions.

Grantmaking builds on opportunities presented by our long history of support for community schools, including our private/public partnership with the U.S. Department of Education on the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and other afterschool initiatives. Funding is directed specifically at capacity building and infrastructure development with a focus on research and evaluation, professional development, dissemination of promising practices, public awareness and communications and policy development. (We do not fund the operation of individual afterschool programs.)

We seek sustainable, community-driven learning opportunities that support both academic achievement and positive youth development throughout the school-day, summer and afterschool hours, especially for poor and minority students. We are making grants:

  • To organizations and institutions providing research, evaluation and documentation of effective practices.
  • To organizations to build systems and structures to support public policy and professional development of school-day and afterschool educators and leaders.
  • To organizations to raise public awareness and develop public policies aimed at increasing funding and implementing effective school/community partnerships and programs.

Click here to view the 10 most recent grants for this program area.

We strongly suggest that organizations seeking funding from this program carefully review all program guidelines in this section and our application procedures.