The Polk Brothers Foundation has already funded over fifteen education-based nonprofit organizations in Chicago this year, including the Academy for Urban School Leadership. Polk gave $100,000 to the Academy to support their Turnaround Coaching Program. By coaching the educators at Chicago's low-performing public schools, Polk expects to see positive results in the city's children. (See Polk Brothers Foundation: Chicago Area Grants).
The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) aims to train teachers in Chicago's poverty-stricken and academically-challenged public schools. At this time, AUSL manages twenty-five schools and has successfully trained more than 500 residents from its Chicago Teacher Residency program. The residency is a one-year hands-on urban teacher training program that pairs public school teachers up with mentor teachers. Teachers who successfully complete the program automatically earn a Master's degree from National Louis University and commit to teaching in Chicago Public Schools for at least four more years. (See Fundraising for K-12 Education).
To be awarded a grant from Polk Brothers similar to the one that AUSL received, you'll need to demonstrate how your organization increases student achievement and strengthens the skills of Chicago Public Schools teachers and principals. Make sure that your tutoring programs document student attendance, staff retention, knowledge gains, and increases in positive social behaviors. Also make sure that your college prep programs involve the parents, use peer support groups, and improve critical thinking skills.
If your nonprofit works to improve adult literacy programs, keep Polk Brothers in mind as well. Your adult literacy programs should offer small group and classroom instruction in Adult Basic Education (ABE), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and General Equivalency Diploma (GED). You'll also need to include provisions for ongoing training of instructors and tutors, similar to the aforementioned teacher training programs.
In addition to large grants like this one, Polk also has small grants program with grants of up to $25,000 for organizations with annual expenses between $75,000 and $500,000. Polk won't consider your application if you've already submitted to them within the past year. It also won't fund more than 8% of your operating budget. To apply for an education grant with Polk Brothers, you’ll need to submit a pre-application form, which the foundation will respond to within 30 days. There are no application deadlines, and applications are considered four times per year at quarterly board meetings.