Taproot Taps into Education at a Root Level

The Taproot Foundation doesn't grant cash to early childhood education programs (or to anyone). But what it does grant is something many organizations would be hard-pressed to achieve on their own: the substantial ability to build an organization's capacity.

The Taproot Foundation does this through its Service Grants Program, through which top-level nonprofit consultants spend substantial time with an organization to help them addresses a specific internal need. And if you're still thinking dollars, think this: Taproot assesses that its in-kind services are valued at $45,000 and upward.

The foundation supports nonprofits working in a wide variety of arenas, but their history of giving shows that education, including in the pre-K realm, is at the top of their priority list, with a specific interest in  "enhancing the educational success of students."

The catch here is that the organizations doing this early childhood education work must be based in one of five metropolitan areas: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Granting is limited to these five metropolitan areas because this is where Taproot's network of pro bono nonprofit consultants are located; however there are possibilities for the work done by the nonprofit to radiate out further into the country—or the world.

The Service Grants fall into four major categories: Strategy Management, Leadership Development & Strategic HR, Marketing, and Information Technology. But Taproot gets even more specific. Within each of these areas, a potential grantee applies for a specific project need. There are 19 project options in total. The foundation’s website lists and describes them all in a highly organized fashion.

One recent early childhood education grantee is The Nutury in Los Angeles, which describes itself as "a small, non-profit developmentally appropriate preschool, established in 1975 to meet the needs of working parents." The Nurtury received a Strategic Planning Prep Service Grant.

Another recent early childhood education grantee is Pretend City Children's Museum in Irvine, CA, which provides exhibits, classes, workshops, events, and curricula for the pre-K set and its educators. Pretend City received a Key Messages & Brand Strategy Service Grant.

What types of nonprofit organizations are best suited to win one of these service grants? The answer lies in the Taproot Foundation’s wish for nonprofits to “do more with more.” Therefore, your organization (which must be a 501(c)(3)) must be well positioned in terms of staff size and budget (the requirements vary a bit by city and project area). You must also be able to display significant organizational buy-in to the project at hand.

Application deadlines are quarterly in order to suit your project and your fiscal year calendar. Get everyone on board and go for it.

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