Vanguard: Philadelphia Grants

OVERVIEW: Vanguard, an investment management company, has a corporate giving program that prioritizes Philadelphia nonprofits. It is most interested in kindergarten readiness on the local level.

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education, kindergarten readiness, community benefit, financial education, environment

IP TAKE:  Vanguard prioritizes established organizations rather than grassroots organizations in Philadelphia.

PROFILE: Vanguard is one of the largest investment management companies in the world, with over 20 million investors in 170 different countries and multiple domestic and international offices. However, the company is headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and much of its corporate giving takes place in the nearby Philadelphia area. Vanguard has a community stewardship program that predominately focuses on Pennsylvania nonprofits that address youth and community-building.

Established in 2015, the Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program seeks “to start kids off right” and focuses on kindergarten readiness in the cities of Philadelphia, Phoenix and Charlotte, where its U.S. employees live and work. The program prioritizes impoverished children and ways to help them overcome obstacles to finding success in later school and careers. Additionally, Vanguard supports policy and advocacy efforts related to kindergarten readiness at the state and national levels. Past grantees include Drexel University for its West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning Initiative. In general, this is a funder that seeks to support pregnant mothers, parents, early literacy, and caregivers to improve high-quality early learning opportunities in childcare.

It is not uncommon for Vanguard grants to exceed $1 million, as with the example of Drexel University referenced above. In a recent year, the corporate funder approved $7.3 million in total grants for the Strong Start for Kids initiative, bringing the overall initiative total to over $11.2 million. Vanguard restricts these grants to Pennsylvania, Arizona, and North Carolina. Past grantees include mostly established organizations like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which works to assist low-income children and families who cannot afford care for their children. This corporate funder also supports has Philadelphia community gardens that utilize employee volunteer hours and local blood drives through local American Red Cross chapter. Financial education and the environment are also important to this funder.

Vanguard does not accept unsolicited funding requests from local grantseekers in the Philadelphia area or elsewhere. According to the funder’s website, “[d]edicated, philanthropic professionals within Vanguard identify nonprofit partners using a research-driven top-down approach, instead of a bottom-up grant solicitation process.” The general phone number for Vanguard is 877-662-7447, and the email address is


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