How Toyota USA Foundation Approaches K-12 Giving

As you would expect from the philanthropic arm of one of the world's largest automakers, the Toyota USA Foundation's K-12 education giving includes a heavy focus on improving student literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A recent round of grants from the funder illustrates how Toyota USA approaches STEM education funding.

Recent grants from Toyota USA include projects to expand access to biotechnology programs in underserved high schools, provide robotics education in Flint, improve science and math education on a South Dakota Indian reservation, and stimulate interest in STEM through a summer science camp in New Jersey. A look at the grants reveal a commitment to expanding access to STEM activities for disadvantaged students and groups that have been underrepresented in science and technology careers. The funder appears to favor urban projects, with most of the grants going to organizations in urban areas, including Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Baltimore, San Antonio; New York City; and the San Francisco Bay area.

The funder also strives to expand access to STEM learning for ethnic minorities. In addition to African Americans and Hispanics, Toyota USA also includes American Indian populations, as demonstrated by a $210,000 grant to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The grant will boost STEM education opportunities for 600 Lakota students through classroom instruction and a greenhouse.

Toyota USA's STEM funding also includes professional development and other resources for teachers. One recipient of funding is Science Buddies, a California-based nonprofit that received $200,000 to develop a teacher dashboard to help teachers keep track of student progress on science projects. Another recipient, the Institute for Earth Science Research and Education in Pennsylvania received $184,000 to support in-person and online workshops for teachers.

Grant amounts from Toyota USA Foundation are $50,000 minimum, with some grants exceeding $750,000. Most of the 2014 grants ranged from $100,000 to $250,000 in size. The funder accepts grant applications year-round through an online link. It does not accept proposals by mail. In addition, Toyota USA set a new guideline for organizations it has funded in the past: the funder will not consider an applicant until two years after completion of the previously funded project. Grantseekers should study the funder's guidelines before applying. In addition to education, the funder also supports vehicle safety and local support initiatives.