Great Lakes Education Philanthropy: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: Great Lakes aims to remove barriers to education for underserved and marginalized students and those seeking to close the equity gap in education.

IP TAKE: This funder’s college readiness grants prioritize students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. Grantmaking is geographically limited to organizations located in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas and North Dakota. This funder accepts applications through its online portal.

PROFILE: Great Lakes Education Philanthropy is the philanthropic program of Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, a company focused on college access, college completion, and student loan repayment for over 50 years. Grantmaking at Great Lakes is based on the “[g]uiding belief that postsecondary degrees, credentials, apprenticeships and certificates are the surest path to economic success.” The overall aim of this funder’s grantmaking is to get “[s]tudents to and through college.”

The foundation's tripart funding strategy includes exploration grants, validation grants and scaling grants. Great Lakes awards exploration grants to support projects that identify best practices for increasing college completion rates, while validation grants fund most promising research. Scaling grants support program expansion. All three grantmaking programs award grants to college readiness projects and research. Past grantees include the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and Pathways to College Inc.

This funder’s grants vary widely in size, ranging from $1,000 to $20 million, with the majority falling into the the $100,000 to $500,000 range. To learn more about the types of organizations Great Lakes supports, explore its funding history page. Geographically, this funder prioritizes the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas and Ohio.

Great Lakes Education Philanthropy accepts unsolicited grant applications through its online portal. Most grantmaking programs have submission deadlines, which Great Lakes announces on its grant calendar.

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