These Philanthropic Orgs Are Pledging $18M for Secondary Education in Developing Countries

The MacArthur Foundation teamed up with four other major philanthropic organizations to fund $18 million for secondary education in developing countries. Along with The MasterCard Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies Services, Human Dignity Foundation, and an anonymous funder, MacArthur's grant money will go toward increasing participation, quality, and relevance in secondary education. The focus of these improvements is underserved youth between the ages of 12 and 19.

Barry Lowenkron, vice president of International Programs at MacArthur, stated:

Education beyond primary school remains out of reach for millions of children, especially girls. Low- and middle-income countries have a tremendous opportunity to pull citizens out of poverty by educating girls to the same standards as boys. We are looking for fresh thinking about providing quality secondary education, so that every child has a chance at living a fulfilled life and contributing to his or her local community and our global society.

MacArthur is part of a global community dedicated to this cause, known as the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE). This partnership was cited among the initial commitments to the UN Secretary General’s five-year Global Education First Initiative at its launch at the 2012 UN General Assembly. Organizations receiving a portion of the $18 million in grants include the African Population and Health Research Center, the Akanksha Fund, and Build Africa. A full list of grant recipients is listed in the MacArthur press release.

Related: Barry Lowenkron

While the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation does support local public schools, the foundation dedicates most of its education grantmaking budget toward undereducated and developing countries. MacArthur previously focused its education grantmaking on higher education initiatives in Russia and Africa. By nurturing the educational freedom of these emerging democratic societies, MacArthur aims to develop modern university-based science and humanities research and training capabilities in the regions. The foundation recently concluded its grantmaking for this category, however, and is no longer accepting proposals.

MacArthur is in the information-gathering phase of investment in girls' secondary education funding for developing nations. The goal of this grant category is to fund pilot projects that improve girls' access to education, support research to address gender inequality, and advocate for policies that support girls' education. The geographical focus of this project is solely in Nigeria, India, and Uganda. The Girls' Secondary Education in Developing Countries category is the only education-based area for which the MacArthur Foundation is currently accepting grants inquiries.

If your non-profit organization is supporting transitions to and retention in secondary schools, developing innovative approaches to secondary education, using cost-effective educational technologies, or reforming teaching strategies, look into a MacArthur education grant. That is, of course, if your work is solely devoted to Uganda, Nigeria, or India. If your organization is not part of the PSIPSE, you still have some chance at a grant. A very small number of other grants are made to respond to opportunities to leverage financial or in-kind support from donors, governments, and other actors. However, the recipients of these grants still must be in MacArthur's geographic regions of focus. Review the grantmaking guidelines in MacArthur's Education Section for more details on how to apply.

Editor’s Note: The MacArthur Foundation is currently winding down its Girls’ Secondary Education in Developing Countries grantmaking program. MacArthur has not yet indicated an official end date, only that it plans to bring the program to a close “over the next few years.” We’ll keep you posted as new information comes in.