PNC Foundation: Grants for Early Childhood Education

OVERVIEW:  The PNC Foundation's grants are focused on three key areas: economic development, arts and culture, and education, which emphasizes early education "initiatives serving low-and moderate-income children" through its Grow up Great program. Partnerships are limited to organizations where PNC has a presence, namely Illinois, Missouri, the southeastern U.S., the east coast as far north as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the Great Lakes states.

IP TAKE:  ECE fundraisers should focus their attention on Grow Up Great, which provides millions of dollars in funding and drives the foundation's grants in early education.  A key focus of any proposal should include a focus on early education in math, science, financial education, or the arts, and a bilingual component would be a big plus as well. 

PROFILE: The PNC Foundation's mission, plainly stated, is "to form partnerships with community-based nonprofit organizations within the markets PNC serves in order to enhance educational opportunities for children, particularly underserved pre-K children through our signature PNC Grow Up Great program, and to promote the growth of targeted communities through economic development initiatives."  

 A self-described "$350 million, milti-year initiative to help prepare children - especially underserved children - from birth to age five to prepare for success in school and life," Grow Up Great is the key area of focus for any ECE grantseekers looking for support from PNC.  Grants especially focus on "math, science, financial education and the arts," and should also incorporate service providers, teacher professional development, "family education in early education," and "volunteer opportunities for PNC employees." Prominent partners include Sesame Street, the National Head Start Association, and the Fred Rogers Company.

Now into its second decade, Grow Up Great shows no signs of slowing down. To mark the program's 10th anniversary, the PNC announced a $19 million multi-year vocabulary initiative for underserved pre-kindergarten children.  PNC Foundation also hosts an online lesson center, which features early childhood education lesson plans and home-based worksheets crafted by past PNC partners, as well as a free bilingual multimedia Sesame Street vocabulary learning kit called “Words Are Here, There, and Everywhere" that has been widely distributed. The program also features "Grow Up Great with Science" and a "Financial Education Initiative for Young Children." 

PNC's grantmaking is broad and varied, to say the least. Organizations that have received grants work in areas including child abuse prevention education, the use of art to help develop cognitive functions, teacher training, preschool environmental education, and much more.  Although there have been notable exceptions, most grants awarded were $75,000 or less.  In addition to direct funding, PNC also provides time off for its employees to volunteer with qualifying organizations, which will receive $1,000 from the foundation if the employee volunteers with them for 40 hours or more a year.

Beyond its education-related funding, PNC's economic development is directed at the areas of affordable housing, community development (primarily support for small businesses), community services (including job training, early education and enrichment programs, and facilities construction in low-income areas), community stabilization and community revitalization (through eliminating blight and bringing in or keeping area residents and businesses).

Like many corporate-affiliated funders, PNC has a geographic focus in its grantmaking that concentrates on the states in which it has a presence. For PNC, that generally means Illinois and Missouri, the southeastern U.S., the east coast as far north as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the Great Lakes states. Applications must be submitted online; grantmaking forms and guidelines for the foundation are available here.

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