The Joyce Foundation Helps Improve Chicago Public Schools’ Reputation

The Chicago Public School system has never had the best reputation for providing top-notch education for the city's youth. If they can afford it, Chicago parents tend to either foot the bill for private school or move out to the suburbs when their children reach school age. Although the stigma still exists today, the Joyce Foundation is doing its part to help Chicago Public Schools strategize for the future. (See Joyce Foundation: Chicago Grants).

In 2012, the foundation gave $250,000 to Children First Fund: The Chicago Public Schools Foundation. This grant was part of Joyce's Innovation Grant program and went towards supporting the establishment of a new Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Strategy Management and the development of a comprehensive 10-year Neighborhood Vision for CPS.

The Children First Fund (CFF) was established in 1996 and has been serving as the district's nonprofits ever since. Its mission is to ensure that school-age children are on track to graduate and enter the workforce at every stage of their education. The CFF serves as the flow-through agent for individual donations and grants, such as this one from The Joyce Foundation. Since inception, CCF has brought in over $100 million, which is used for more than 180 public schools programs.

The Joyce Foundation breaks their education grants into three distinct categories: Innovation, Early Childhood Education, and Teacher Quality. Innovation Grants, like this one, aim to support policy-oriented expansions of high-quality schools to close achievement gaps. Though consistent contributions to this organization, Joyce supports efforts to engage parents and community members to create quality charter school options for families and fund research and policy development to address and improve issues with low-performing schools.

Other 2012 Education Innovation Grants funded by The Joyce Foundation include $200,000 to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools and $75,000 to KIPP Chicago. The Illinois Network increases awareness about the benefits of charter schools and help parents decide which one is best for their children. KIPP Chicago is a free, open-enrollment, college prep initiative with a good track record of getting underprivileged students into college.  

If your organization is looking to The Joyce Foundation for education funding, you're better off trying for a Teacher Quality or Early Education Grant. (Read Joyce director of programs, Grretchen Crosby Sims' IP profile). Although the foundation does fund these types of Innovation Grants, that program is smaller and the grants often go to national organizations outside of Chicago. Regardless of what education program you apply for, you'll be sharing the funds with Indianapolis and Minneapolis. All of Joyce's metro-level progress grants are split between the three cities, especially ones regarding teacher quality. Keep up with grand proposal deadlines on The Joyce Foundation Application Page