Based in Houston Texas, the Douglas B. Marshall Family Foundation is dedicated to supporting education programs in developing countries around the world. However, this isn’t a funder solely concerned with getting kids into the classroom. Generally Marshall focuses its funding attentions on improving educational outcomes overall, but it does so by taking a more holistic rather than myopic approach. Here are few key insights to the foundation’s approach:
It’s paying attention to what’s keeping kids out of school.
The Marshall Foundation recognizes that in order to improve educational outcomes in some of the poorest countries in the world, more has be done than simply getting kids, teachers, and teaching supplies into the classroom. Marshall looks to the root causes as to why kids aren’t going to school and actively supports organizations that are seeking out solutions.
For example, if a girl isn’t attending class because she’s spending hours a day, every day, finding clean water and hauling it back for her family; or a child isn’t in school because he must work to earn money to help feed his family, Marshall is going to support groups seeking solutions to these root problems while keeping education at the center of its focus. As the foundation’s website states: “...education and research are impossible without food, shelter, clothing, or medicine.”
Starting small is okay, as long as there’s a plan to sustain and scale.
Marshall doesn’t shy away from supporting local and grassroots groups that are affecting positive educational outcomes on a community level. However, it’s keen on backing organizations that demonstrate the ability to achieve high-impact at a low cost and those that show promise to sustainably scale in the future. Additionally, the foundation is on the lookout for projects that have the evidence to back its promise of improving educational outcomes.
So, while small NGOs are certainly not out of the funding race here, it may be a bit more difficult for new organizations or those applying innovative but unproven methods to improve educational outcomes to obtain funding from Marshall.
It doesn’t close the funding door after one year.
Initially, nearly all of the Marshall Family Foundation’s grants are for one year. But, this funder actively examines its grantees’ progress, milestones reached, shortfalls, and leadership. The main purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether or not the foundation could, or should, offer multi-year support. Speaking of which, that support can vary pretty widely from around $5,000 to $425,000. These facets of Marshall’s grantmaking are important for potential grantees to know as the foundation offers both project specific and general operating support grants.