College readiness has emerged as one of the leading education reform efforts of the 21st century. Recognizing that a high school diploma is not the guarantee of entry into the American middle class that it once was, school systems across the country are making student preparedness for college a central part of their missions. The good news for schools is that foundations are opening their pocketbooks, funding programs and projects with a focus on increasing readiness for and access to postsecondary education opportunities.
This section of Inside Philanthropy will point you to some of the top foundations working in this area. All the profiles below are updated regularly. Only paid subscribers can access these resources (subscribe here).
The Angell Foundation supports initiatives in California and New England that aim to help low-income, at-risk young people and adults improve their lives, and college readiness is part of that focus. Proposals and LOIs are accepted by invitation only, but the foundation does encourage new organizations to get in touch.
This giving arm of the banking behemoth gives to college readiness and completion outfits preparing young people for success in the 21st-century workforce.
This funder is mainly focused on the Southwest, but ed funding occasionally finds its way elsewhere. Its support of education is geared towards college readiness and college achievement.
The philanthropic arm of the electronic retail giant is willing to support multiple approaches to tech education to prepare teens for college and careers in the 21st century, with an emphasis on computer and digital skills. They fund national and local programs.
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.
The Capital One Foundation’s college readiness grantmaking centers on increasing students’ access to quality education.
Cargill’s college readiness grantmaking typically focuses on low-income students and regions with a high proportion of students in middle and high school.
A leading funder of education projects and programs across the country, Carnegie's grantmaking strategy includes supporting creative, forward-thinking projects for college readiness and success.
The bank's charitable arm funds college readiness programs in the nine states where the bank has a business presence.
In addition to its focus on helping families save for college, Citi also supports efforts to promote greater college access and persistence.
This funder wants to expand higher education opportunities in California, with a focus on access to financial aid for low-income and first-generation students who might not otherwise see college as an option.
Your best bet with Comcast is to present a diversity-oriented program that connects college readiness to youth development and support for underserved communities.
The Cooke Foundation works with institutions of higher education and national organizations to increase college access for talented young men and women with financial needs.
Dell's College Preparation and Completion initiative targets the preparation of disadvantaged populations for education beyond high school, leading to a bachelor's degree. This funder includes a specific college readiness focus, supports school systems, nonprofits, and charter operators in urban areas, and accepts unsolicited proposals.
ECMC invests in projects that help to prepare underserved students for college and completion of their degree programs.
College readiness is a significant priority for the Ecolab Foundation, so long as the programming occurs in an Ecolab community.
The FCA Foundation’s college readiness support is primarily focused on STEM education and STEM-related professional development, particularly for students coming from underserved populations.
The Ford Foundation recently restructured, but its new Youth Opportunity and Learning program specifically mentions assistance for youths moving from secondary to postsecondary education.
Through its education program, Gannett supports a wide range of college readiness programs to help students overcome barriers to postsecondary access through initiatives like college advising, test prep, campus tours, and much, much more.
The largest private foundation in the world has made college readiness a central part of its education funding activities. It has supported college readiness projects in K-12 school systems, research conducted by higher education institutions, and other research organizations to better understand the factors and indicators that support college readiness.
GE Foundation supports college readiness programs across the United States.
Great Lakes seeks organizations that remove barriers to education for underserved and marginalized students and those seeking to close the equity gap in education.
The Hearst Foundations focus support on mid- to large-size grantees. There is no program specifically for college readiness, but Hearst regularly supports organizations preparing students (especially those from low-income backgrounds) for postsecondary academic life.
The Heckscher Foundation primarily serves the New York City area but also supports programs "throughout the United States." Its College Access Program runs the gamut from SAT prep and peer advising to helping with financial aid and college liaison support.
This funder’s agenda is to improve college access and success, but only for students in Arizona and Florida. Its grantmaking activities emphasize scholarships and support of college access networks.
The James Irvine Foundation wants to see more California youth complete high school on time and earn a college degree. Through its Linked Learning initiative, this funder builds stronger pathways between K-12 and higher education systems in the Golden State.
The Joyce Foundation awards college readiness grants to organizations located in parts of the Midwest that view education as a tool for upwards mobility. It prioritizes projects that support students of color or those from low-income backgrounds.
The Mayer and Morris Kaplan Foundation focuses its college readiness grants on increasing access to college and helping college students complete their Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree programs.
With its focus mainly on urban areas, Kresge's "To and Through College" subprogram leaves the door open for diverse projects such as college readiness programs, financial aid counseling, campus technology improvements, and research on college completion strategies.
Lumina Foundation aligns its grantmaking to the foundation's Goal 2025 program, which seeks to increase the number of students earning post-secondary credentials to 60 percent by 2025.
Funded largely by the Gates Foundation, the NGLC network is driven to improve student outcomes through innovative strategies for teaching, learning and assessment. It is especially interested in ensuring college readiness and completion.
The philanthropic arm of the investment management firm wants to help low-income and underserved students get into top four-year colleges and thrive academically.
The Prudential Foundation invests in college readiness programs that prepare students for their careers, as well as, their postsecondary education.
This funder supports K-12 education across the country and in its hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is especially interested in education reform and ensuring students leave high school college and career ready.
The Teagle Foundation believes a traditional liberal arts education is an excellent vehicle for boosting the college readiness of New York City's youth. This funder works with nonprofit organizations, often in partnership with New York-area colleges and universities.
The Travelers Foundation supports school systems and nonprofit organizations with college readiness and access programs. Most attention goes to the company's key cities of Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota, but some grants are awarded each year outside these two cities for Travelers employee initiatives.
This foundation's “Providing Pathways for Success to Post-Secondary Education” focus falls under its “Community Possible Grant Program.” The foundation has an open grant application process, but only for programs in the states where its corporate side offers banking services.