The PIMCO Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: The PIMCO Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the investment management firm, gives with a mission “to empower people globally to reach their full potential.” College readiness is an enormous granting focus in service of this mission.

IP TAKE: The PIMCO Foundation places a great deal of its granting focus on college readiness, a commitment dedicated to creating pathways to and through college—particularly four-year college. It sees myriad ways that low-income, high-need students can and should be supported. The foundation will fund relevant programs anywhere in the country, but their recent giving history shows a bent for Southern California and the New York City area.

PROFILE: The PIMCO Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company), an investment management firm that is itself a subsidiary of Allianz. On one level, that’s neither here nor there, because the foundation supports a wide swath of areas in need completely unrelated to the company’s for-profit work. But once you get into the application itself, you’ll see how this parent company relates; the pre-emptive financial reporting for this grant application is as rigorous as these things come (more on that below).

For now, here’s the throughline: The mission of The PIMCO Foundation is “to empower people globally to reach their full potential.” On the surface, that sounds fairly generic but in the college readiness space, it actually gives quite a bit of information. Key in on the words “empower” and “potential.”

College readiness falls under the foundation's Education giving, but within that general area, the foundation actually only supports early childhood education and what it calls “college access”—with the vast majority of its emphasis going to this latter area (great for you, since that's why you're here). The PIMCO Foundaton defines what it means by college access: “We specifically seek to invest in innovative organizations that serve low-income, high-risk, first generation college students to and through college.” In other words, the foundation wants to set the table for underserved populations to reach their educational “potential.” 

As for their mission word “empower,” its meaningfulness is embedded in the three ways the foundation seeks a program to achieve its college access work:

  • “Academic, social, and emotional support, helping high school students prepare for and access a four year university”
  • “A continuum of care for college-going students, supporting them to and through college”
  • “Tools to help students and their caregivers financially prepare for postsecondary education.”

As a college readiness programmer, something in these bullet points are likely already in your wheelhouse. Note that the foundation states that a grantee "should provide one or more" of those services, so the more integrated and holistic your college readiness program presents, the better.

It’s also worth noting the foundation’s use of the term “four year university.” The PIMCO Foundation is not just looking to get low-income, high-risk students to any table, but rather a table best situated to realize their greatest “potential.”

Education grants from The PIMCO Foundation range from $25,000 to $100,000. They are typically limited to one-year support (though the foundation will entertain multi-year requests to a limited number of “returning” grantees).

Recent "college access" grantees include the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (New York, NY); Moneythink (Chicago, IL); Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (Santa Ana, CA); and Student Sponsor Partners (New York, NY).

Although The PIMCO Foundation explicitly states that there are “no geographic restrictions” for its Education giving (and therefore its college readiness giving), two regions are clearly favored: New York City and Southern California. That is likely because Southern California (specifically Orange County) and New York City are the two hubs on its for-profit side, and are the only two regions in which the foundation gives for one of its other granting categories (Critical Community Needs) as well as when it comes to Event Sponsorships. (For the record, the foundation also supports a very healthy employee matching gifts program, as well as an infrastructure for employee volunteers.)

Getting back to that for-profit side of PIMCO: This is a rigorous application, and it notably relates to the management of your organization’s money. The foundation requires extensive discussion of your organization’s financials, and it goes far beyond the baseline requirement to be a 501(c)(3). There’s analysis of your program-to-administration overall operating budget ratios, your cash-on-hand vs. current liabilities ratios, and a hard look at how diversified your income is (private donors, foundation grants, government support, service contracts, and more).

The good news is that The PIMCO Foundation’s application is an open one. Requests for Education funding are due at the end of May.


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