Gannett Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW:The Gannett Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Gannett Company, of international media and marketing fame. In addition to supporting the future of the media industry, the Gannett Foundation provides a wide range of grants in many different areas. Its support for education casues includes a wide variety of grants to organizations focused on college readiness in communities where the media powerhouse does business.

IP TAKE: The Gannett Company supports a wide range nonprofits that help students overcome extraordinary hurdles - physical, economic, or otherwise - to completing high school, perceiving college as an option, and getting into and succeeding in the postsecondary world.

PROFILE: The Gannett Foundation is the philanthropic filter for the Gannett Company, an international media and marketing giant. In one recent year, the totality of Gannett Foundation grants and matching gifts programs amounted to more than $6.5 million, of which roughly one-fifth went to “youth/education.” 

Like many foundation offshoots of corporate entities, the Gannett Foundation has a mission to give back to the communities in which the corporation has a local presence. This results in a very long list including small towns, large cities, and everything in between—throughout the U.S. and beyond (e.g. Guam) where the Gannett Foundation is supporting community development. 

The Gannett Foundation’s support of these communities flows through its Community Action Grants program. The foundation lists this program’s priorities as:

  • Education and neighborhood improvement 
  • Economic development
  • Youth Development
  • Community problem-solving
  • Assistance to disadvantaged people
  • Environmental conservation
  • Cultural enrichment

Having this broader sense of everything the Gannett Foundation seeks to accomplish within a community can only be valued-added to your cause. Of particular note is that the foundation includes education with “neighborhood improvement,” which indicates that the foundation sees education as a community development issue on the most local of levels.

When it comes to its Community Action Grants—and therefore its college readiness support—the Gannett Foundation heavily relies on terms such as “grass-roots” and “local.” If you’re a national program that happens to be headquartered in one of Gannett’s communities, this funding isn’t for you, but the foundation will grant to local chapters of national organizations. 

In addition to offering a grassroots program explicitly targeted to your local community, be sure you’re a 501(c)(3). This includes elementary and secondary schools, but most cases of the foundation's giving in the college readiness slice of its education funding were directed at outside nonprofits.

Gannett Community Action Grants have an average range of $1,000 to $5,000, and truly run the gamut in terms of their approaches. Recently distributed grants in the college readiness realm include:

  • multiple "stay in school" programs designed to ensure high school completion, such as an "emerging Leaders Program [that] assists Latinos in graduating from high school, apply[ing] for and succeed[ing] in college";
  • college campus tours offered by groups like Lift for Life Gym in St. Louis, MO and Christ Child Society of Detroit, MI, to expose high schoolers to college opportunities;
  • Girls, Inc.'s "College Bound Girls program for middle and high school students";
  • a program from Closing the Gap that offers "college readiness activities such as SAT preparation courses, counseling and SAT exams" to students in Title 1 high schools;
  • Yonkers Partners in Education's "College Interview Workshop and a College Alumni Interview Day for participating senior students"; and
  • funding for the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired to offer help for young people ages "14-22 [and] visually impaired, to get and keep a job or transition into college."

As can be seen in the examples above, many of the college readiness initiatives the foundation has supported in the past have been directed at students who are likely to face additional hurdles - physical, economic, or otherwise - to completing high school and perceiving college as an option, and then providing specific tools and pathways to get to college and succeed once they do. 

As with its funding focus, the process of applying for a Gannett Foundation Community Action Grant is also a grass-roots enterprise—proposals should be sent to your local Gannett newspaper or television station. The foundation considers application twice a year, typically with late February and late August deadlines.


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