Hearst Foundations: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: The Hearst Foundation’s education program has long targeted colleges and universities, but it has always kept the door open for K-12 nonprofits and schools. Hearst's grants mostly support large organizations with budgets exceeding $10 million, but they also support some midsize nonprofits with budgets over $1 million. In the past few years, a consistent portion of grants has supported K-12 initiatives, including those for college readiness.

IP TAKE: Hearst grants are extremely competitive, especially for first-time K-12 grantseekers, and the foundations' education program does not have a specific college readiness focus; however, organizations working to prepare students for "college success" have consistently received support, and should not hesitate to consider applying.

PROFILE: The Hearst Foundations, founded in 1945 and 1948, support nonprofits working "to ensure that people of all backgrounds in the United States have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives," particularly those serving low-income populations. Though the two foundations operate “as one entity, sharing the same funding guidelines, leadership and staff,” the offices based in New York City and San Francisco independently review proposals based East and West of the Mississippi River, respectively. Their grantmaking supports Culture, Education, Health, and Social Services.

Each year, Hearst earmarks roughly 30 percent of its total grant budget for education. The majority of this funding supports higher education through "program, scholarship, capital and, on a limited basis, general and endowment support." However, Hearst does also fund K-12 schools and nonprofits, including a fair number that focus on preparing students for "college success" (the term most often found in reference to Hearst support for college readiness initiatives).

Grants range from $75,000 to $150,000. More information on recent grantmaking habits can found in Hearst’s grants database. Recent support includes funding for programs in college preparation, work study, college success, and expanded college options, through organizations such as American Council on Education, Bard College (for an early college program), East Harlem Tutorial Program, Generation Schools Network, Good Shepherd Services, Blue Engine, Cristo Rey New York High School, and more. Some of the more noteworthy trends include targeted support for minority and low-income students, as well as support for students who are the first generation from their families to attend college (the foundations also back many postsecondary scholarships for these same students). Before beginning the open application process, be sure to review the relevant funding limitations and FAQ page.  

Applications are accepted year-round, though there is a mandatory waiting period for reapplying (one year if the application is declined, three years if approved).

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