Great Lakes Education Philanthropy: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: Great Lakes supports organizations that 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 focus on supporting students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. The foundation geographically restricts its grantmaking 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 “guiding 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 “students to and through college.” The foundation's tripart funding strategy includes Exploration Grants, Validation Grants and Scaling Grants.

Great Lakes awards Exploration Grants to “learn more about ideas and approaches we think hold promise for helping more students complete college.” In contrast, it uses Validation Grants to “determine which programs make the grade”; the funding supports “independent researchers who rigorously evaluate a program.” Scaling Grants are awarded to only the most successful programs and “are designed to give our partners time to institutionalize financial support without disrupting the services they provide.” All three grantmaking programs award grants to college readiness projects and research.

Grant amounts vary widely and can range from $1,000 to $2 million; however, the majority of grants fall in the $100,000 to $500,000 range. To learn more about the types of organizations Great Lakes supports, explore its Funding History page.

Great Lakes Education Philanthropy accepts unsolicited grant applications; deadlines may vary. Note that GLEP only funds programs in six states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas, and North Dakota.

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