Are you a teacher, school or district leader, parent or caretaker, or community volunteer looking for education grant funds to support school or district initiatives? If so, you know firsthand how challenging it can be to research and identify appropriate funding sources. In this guide to foundation and corporate grants, we explain what corporate grants are, how to research and apply for them, what kind of education projects they’ll fund, and more.
What is a corporate grant?
Unlike federal grants awarded by the United States government or foundation grants awarded by privately owned foundations, corporate grants are funded by for-profit corporations. Many large corporations have established foundations that act as their “giving arm,” carrying out the corporation’s philanthropic efforts. Some common examples of corporations that have giving programs include the Target Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.
Foundation and corporate grants can provide funding for your school’s or district’s projects and programs. Find more information and specific foundation grant opportunities on the Grants and Funding Center.Find Private Funding to Support Education Initiatives
Why do corporations give grants?
Corporations award grants to support mission-focused organizations, including schools and districts, that align with their values and priorities and that have a positive impact in the community. Many corporations view grant awards as partnerships between the corporation and awarded organizations and as means for corporate leaders, founders, board members, and executives to further the philanthropic missions prioritized by the corporation. Through grant making, corporations become partners in the work benefitting communities.
Where can I find and research corporate grants?
You can find corporate grants that your school or district may be eligible for by searching on the websites of corporations that are active in your local community. A robust database can also be a great asset when searching for corporate grant funds. Resources such as GrantWatch, GetEdFunding, and Candid (which are not affiliated with Curriculum Associates) can be helpful places to start.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to several corporations, be sure to go the corporate foundation’s website and read all the information provided. These websites usually contain very clear language about priorities and application deadlines (more on eligibility requirements below).
Corporate foundations’ Form 990s, which all tax-exempt organizations are required to file with the IRS, are excellent resources when it comes to researching grants. Form 990s can provide a wealth of information to grant seekers, including facts about the grant process and, often, which organizations a corporation has funded in the past, what a typical award amount looks like, and priority areas a corporation likes to fund. Form 990s are free to the public, and databases like Candid’s 990 Finder, ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer, and Economic Research Institute’s Form 990 Finder make them easy to find.
What are the eligibility criteria for corporate grants?
When searching for corporate grants for which your school or district may be eligible, looking at the focus area, or priorities, of a corporation will give you a general sense of what that corporation is interested in funding.
Corporations will often list their larger funding priorities followed by focus areas within those priorities. For example, a corporation with education as one of their main funding priorities may list several grant opportunities that focus on areas within education, such as STEM activities, after-school programs, personalized learning, technology, and teacher professional development.
Corporations’ grant information websites will list eligibility requirements in the form of FAQs or Terms and Conditions, and many companies now offer “eligibility quizzes” that a school, district, or organization fills out to help determine eligibility for a particular grant program. Eligibility factors could include:
- Geography: Grants are often only awarded to organizations that work in communities where the corporation also works.
- Invitation: Some corporate grants are by “invitation only,” meaning your school or district must be asked to apply.
- Grant Cycle/Timing: A corporation’s priorities may vary cycle to cycle, or they may remain the same over multiple grant cycles. For example, Fortune 500 company 3M has two education grant cycles:
K–12 education is from April to June, and higher education is from July to September.
- Needs: Corporations can be very specific about what their grants can and cannot be used for. A STEM education grant, for example, may pay for expanding an after-school science program to include more grades, but it will not fund travel, large lab equipment, events, etc.
How much is the typical corporate grant award?
Award amounts can vary greatly depending on the corporation, which is why they will typically list an award range amount that communicates to potential awardees what they can expect in terms of funding. Once a grant application is reviewed, corporations often have their own internal selection committees that decide whether to award a particular school, district, or organization. To determine the final award amount for each chosen awardee, corporations may consider factors such as:
- Budget for current and previous fiscal years
- Programmatic budget needs
- Previous or anticipated grant awards
- Competitiveness of the current grant cycle (i.e., If many schools are applying for the same grant at the same time, competition will be high.)
- An organization’s overall financial health
Corporate grants can be a one-time award, or they can be renewable over a few years.
Additionally, corporate grant makers may have funding priorities that don’t cover assessment and/or instructional programs, such as Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready Diagnostic and i-Ready Personalized Instruction. While corporate grants are rarely used on their own to purchase Curriculum Associates programs, they are sometimes combined with other funding sources to bring our programs to schools and districts.
We know that identifying aligned sources of potential funding can be a daunting task, but with the right resources, knowledge, and patience, your efforts to find corporate grants for your school or district will be well worth it! Happy searching!
Visit the Curriculum Associates Grants and Funding Center to learn about funding that can be used for our programs.Visit the Grants and Funding Center
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