Great Lakes Education Philanthropy: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: Great Lakes seeks organizations removing 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 focus on helping 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.

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 identifying best practices for increasing college completion rates, Validation grants go to fund the most promising research, and Scaling grants go to fund program expansion. All three grantmaking programs award grants to college readiness projects and research.

Grant amounts vary widely and can range from $1,000 to $2o million; however, the majority of grants fall in the $100,000 to $500,000 range. Past grants to support college readiness programs were awarded to the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and Pathways to College, Inc. To learn more about the types of organizations Great Lakes supports, explore its Funding History page.  

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

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