Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation: Grants for Early Childhood

OVERVIEW: Formed in 1995, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation promotes innovative solutions to transform the lives of youth and their families. It runs initiatives in early childhood development, education, green space and the arts, with most grants staying in Georgia.

IP TAKE: In terms of ECE, Blank is particularly interested in high-quality early childhood education systems, and supporting young children who live in high-need communities. But if you're outside Georgia, getting funding will be more difficult, and Blank does not accept unsolicited proposals.

PROFILE: Giving Pledge signatory Arthur Blank cofounded Home Depot in 1978 and retired from the company as co-chairman in 2001. Blank bought the Atlanta Falcons shortly after retiring, and founded the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in 1995.  

According to the Blank Foundation, "Through the foundation and his family’s personal giving, Blank has granted more than $300 million to various charitable organizations." The foundation currently supports initiatives that focus on “early childhood development, education, green space and the arts, and leads giving programs for each of the Blank Family of Businesses, including the Atlanta Falcons, PGA TOUR Superstore, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch and MLS Atlanta.”

So what is this funder looking for in prospective ECE grantees? Blank says that it is particularly interested in "opportunities that lend themselves in support of a high quality early childhood education system for Georgia. Program approaches should first look to benefit those young children who live in high-need communities."

More specifically, Blank's early childhood grantmaking comes out of its Better Beginnings initiative. Through the Better Beginnings initiative, Blank “makes grants to nonprofit organizations that seek to support high quality early childhood development opportunities.” Its focus is on “children birth to five years old and their parents/caregivers living in Atlanta.”

The other major education initiative from Blank, Pathways to Success, supports K-12 students by funding “in-school innovations and out-of-school initiatives” for students in underserved communities. Within this initiative, Blank’s Pipeline Project seeks to “disrupt the status quo for underserved preK-12 students” and bring more of them into the STEAM fields and prepare them for postsecondary success. This project accepts open responses to its calls for proposals from teachers, nonprofits, and community organizations, but focuses only on “students in Atlanta, Fulton County and DeKalb County.”

But this regional concentration shouldn’t stop you from considering Blank funding. In one recent year, for example, four of the seven grants awarded through Better Beginnings were given to organizations outside of Georgia.

That said, in past years, 5 to 10 grantees has been the norm (with the exception of one recent year in which no awards were given through the program at all), so competition seems stiff.

On the upside, Blank has a history of giving larger, multi-year gifts. Recent awardees have received support for general operations, “bonuses and professional incentives” for ECE “staff and executive directors,” and expansion of existing programs and networks. Complete lists of awards can be viewed by year (subdivided by program) through the foundation’s Annual Reports page.

Aside from the relatively small number of awards it gives out each year, another challenge in gaining funding from the Blank Family Foundation is that it does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. The foundation says that it will identify and invite potential partners to apply for grants; it is open to inquiries if you contact the staff member for the program you’re interested in, but does not guarantee a response.

PEOPLE:

  • John Bare, Vice President for Programs
  • Ayana Gabriel, Program Officer, Better Beginnings & Pathways to Success

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