Best Buy Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: The Best Buy Foundation broadly funds community development initiatives, both nationally and in specific local communities, with a priority on technology education and outreach for children and teens.

IP TAKE: The Best Buy Foundation gives its grants to both national and community-centric organizations that provide technology skills to teens, placing specific emphasis on college and career readiness for underserved populations. Grantseeking organizations and programs must operate within 50 miles of a Best Buy location to qualify for a grant.

PROFILE: The Best Buy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the consumer electronics big box store. What distinguishes this funder more is its narrow student age-group focus, which is limited to teens aged 13 to 18. The Best Buy Foundation defines “21st-century skills” as “innovative skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity” that rigorously utilize technology. This obviously lends itself to STEM education, but this funder sees things more holistically, with STEM education as a means to a well-rounded education, and to better position students for college and career.

College readiness funding flows through two grant programs. The first, National Grants, provides awards in the $100,000 - $200,000 range to fund partner organizations for its Career Pathways program, which “offers teens a bridge to success through mentoring, career readiness preparation and internships.” The foundation prioritizes the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Jersey City/NYC, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Antonio, San Francisco/Bay area, Seattle and Washington D.C., where the foundation’s Teen Tech Centers are located. Eligible organizations are 501(c)(3)s with established out-of-school time programming, or programming with a “proven track record” of service to teenagers. Funds are only for program support, not general operating costs.

It second college readiness-related program, Community Grants funds nonprofits working locally and regionally. Amounts are much smaller, from $5,000 to $10,000. Eligible organizations must be a public or nonprofit community-based organization. The foundation “seeks local and regional nonprofit partners offering out-of-school time programs that create hands-on access to technology education and tools that teens will need to be successful in their future schooling and careers.”

In addition to the national and community grants, Best Buy maintains two separate funding programs for organizations operating in The Twin Cities, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington. These funds both consider proposals related to Teens and Tech programs that “encourage teens to learn, experiment and collaborate with the latest technologies, developing skills and experiences to help them succeed in their careers, contribute to their communities and lead outstanding lives,” and Career Pathways programs that “provide tech skills and workforce readiness to help teens obtain a degree or credential, achieve self-supporting wages or have opportunities for further education and career advancement.”

Best Buy Foundation grant opportunities are open to all who wish to apply. Each application starts with an eligibility quiz, and deadlines vary greatly between granting categories; so interested grantseekers should review the relevant grant guidelines closely.

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