The PIMCO Foundation: Grants for Early Childhood Education

OVERVIEW: The PIMCO Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the investment management firm, gives with a mission “to empower people globally to reach their full potential.” Early childhood education is a significant granting focus in service of this mission.

IP TAKE: The PIMCO Foundation places a refreshing emphasis on early childhood education, one of two areas it supports in the education space (the other is college access). It's a rigorous application, but the foundation has a broad take on what it's willing to fund in service of this student population. Its geographic scope is equally broad on paper; the foundation will fund relevant programs anywhere in the country, but in reality their recent giving history shows a bent for Southern California and the New York City area.

PROFILE: The PIMCO Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company), an investment management firm that is itself a subsidiary of Allianz. On one level, that’s neither here nor there, because the foundation supports a wide swath of causes unrelated to the company’s for-profit work. But once you get into the application itself, you’ll see how this parent company relates; the pre-emptive financial reporting for this grant application is as rigorous as these things come (more on that below).

The mission of The PIMCO Foundation is “to empower people globally to reach their full potential.” On the surface, that sounds fairly generic but actually provides some good touchstones for its commitment in the early childhood education space. Key in on the words “empower” and “potential.”

Early childhood education falls under the foundation's Education giving, but within that general area, the foundation actually only supports early childhood education and what it calls “college access.” The students you're here to support are nowhere near college age, but that other emphasis is worth keeping in mind, since a strong argument for early childhood education programs is how important it is to "prime" a learner when they're very young. It's likewise worth noting the foundation's Education section intro: "Regardless of socio-economic status, geography, or background, we believe all individuals should have equal access to a college education." This is another way of stating their interest in "potential."

Rest assured, this funder is committed to early childhood education for students age 0-5, stating its dedication to "enriching the lives of children and their caregivers." That's all that PIMCO Foundation states as its blueprint for early childhood education programming, but filter it through the foundation's mission to "empower" and its easier to think more specifically about how your work should be framed. Add "potential" back in there—particularly for low income children—and things really start to take shape.

Education grants from The PIMCO Foundation range from $25,000 to $100,000. They are typically limited to one-year support (though the foundation will entertain multi-year requests to a limited number of “returning” grantees).

Recent early childhood education grantees include the BELL Foundation (Dorchester, MA); Reading Partners (New York, NY); Room to Grow (New York, NY); and THINK Together (Santa Ana, CA)

Although The PIMCO Foundation explicitly states that there are “no geographic restrictions” for its Education giving (and therefore its early childhood education giving), unquestionably two regions are favored: New York City and Southern California. That is likely because Southern California (specifically Orange County) and New York City are the two hubs on its for-profit operations, and are the only two regions in which the foundation gives for one of its other granting categories (Critical Community Needs) as well as when it comes to Event Sponsorships. (For the record, the foundation also supports a very healthy employee matching gifts program, as well as an infrastructure for employee volunteers.)

Getting back to that for-profit side of PIMCO: This is a rigorous application, particularly with respect to the management of your organization’s money. The foundation requires extensive discussion of your organization’s financials, and it goes far beyond the baseline requirement to be 501(c)(3). There’s analysis of your program-to-administration overall operating budget ratios, your cash-on-hand vs. current liabilities ratios, and a hard look at how diversified your income is (private donors, foundation grants, government support, service contracts, and more).

The good news is that The PIMCO Foundation’s application is an open one. Requests for Education funding are due at the end of May.

PEOPLE:

Douglas Hodge, President

Amber Skalsky, Program Manager