Bezos Family Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: The Bezos Family Foundation is solely dedicated to enriching education for students—starting before formal education begins, continuing through K-12 education, and positioning students for college success and enriched lives.

IP TAKE:  The parents of tech billionaire Jeff Bezos have quietly built a thoughtful and substantial foundation that supports U.S. education on a structural level, including tackling the issue of college readiness for underserved student populations. But it doesn't accept unsolicited proposals or unsolicited inquiries.

PROFILE: The Bezos Family Foundation is the philanthropic project of Jackie and Miguel (Mike) Bezos—all bankrolled with shares of their Amazon stock. The foundation’s annual grantmaking has been growing lately, hitting more than $17 million in a recent year, with all of it devoted to improving U.S. public education.

Read IP’s “What’s the First Thing to Know About the Bezos Family Foundation?”

The Bezos Family Foundation delineates its support of youth education into three areas: Excellence in K-12 Education, Early Learning, and Youth Leadership and Global Engagement. Its support of organizations and programs dedicated to college readiness for underserved youth most often fall under its Excellence in K-12 Education umbrella, with a few programs that are under Youth Leadership and Global Engagement. It's a fluid notion, since there is no "cap" on either area.

No matter the formalized focus area, this foundation looks to support programs that provide "transformative" experiences for youth, which it defines as excellence in the educational content provided to students (especially STEM education), quality environments in which to learn, civic engagement, exposure to a global perspective, and confident social and personal growth.

All of these are potential factors in the college readiness programs the foundation supports. A sampling of college readiness grantees includes organizations teacher training, technology usage, making college more accessible, mentorship programs to help guide low-income students through high school and college, and programs to ensure college graduation and leadership for students of color.

While the foundation does not host a searchable database of grantees, it is possible to review the foundation’s partner list for its Excellence in K-12 Education and Youth Leadership and Global Engagement programs.

The Bezos Family Foundation’s grantees work throughout the country, but there is also an emphasis in Washington (Bezos’ home state). Without direct access to the Bezos clan or its small group of staff, this funding source is a difficult one to crack. The foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, or even unsolicited inquiries.

PEOPLE

  • Nicole DeCario - Managing Director, Operations and Strategic Projects
  • Mark Hofer, Senior Advisor, Education
  • Greg Sommers - Managing Director, Strategy & Programs
  • Megan Wyatt, Managing Director, Strategy and Programs
  • Mollie Price, Program Officer

LINKS