Travelers Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: The Travelers Foundation's main focus is education, with grants going to support a variety of initiatives, including college readiness programs. There are limitations, though: Travelers mainly funds non-profit organizations in its headquarters of Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota, though some grants are awarded each year to organizations outside these two cities for Travelers employee initiatives.

IP TAKE: If your college readiness program addresses the Travelers Foundation’s goals, such as secondary-student academic achievement or college retention, contact this funder, which accepts applications throughout the year. With many long-term partnerships already in place, it might be challenging to get your foot in the door, but first-time grantseekers shouldn't be discouraged from exploring their options.

PROFILE: Developing awareness and boosting readiness for college is one of the primary goals of the Travelers Foundation's education giving. Grantmaking by this funder, the philanthropic arm of insurance giant Travelers, supports programs aimed at college readiness, improved achievement by middle and high school students, greater awareness of insurance and financial services careers, and increased student enrollment in two and four-year colleges. College readiness related grants are awarded out of Travelers' Academic & Career Success program, which has a specific College Preparation & Degree Attainment funding category.

One of the Travelers Foundation's largest college readiness grant programs has been its support of efforts by the St. Paul Public Schools to promote college readiness and access for ethnic minority, low-income, and other underrepresented groups in higher education. The foundation has given significant support to help St. Paul Public Schools expand the Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, program. AVID is designed to accelerate college readiness through effective instruction and students' acquisition of the skills and encouragement needed to continue their education beyond high school. The program's website reports that 76 percent of AVID participants are accepted into four-year colleges and universities.

Other recipients of funding from the Travelers Foundation have included school systems and non-profit organizations, both in Hartford and Minneapolis-St. Paul. In Hartford, Travelers Foundation has provided grants to the Hartford Public Schools, Achieve Hartford!, Achievement First, and the Horizons National Student Enrichment Program. In Minnesota, recipient organizations for college readiness grants have included College Possible, St. Paul Public Schools Foundation, and BestPrep.

Education grants from Travelers have generally ranged in size from $10,000 to $75,000, with a number of smaller grants as well as a few that exceeded $100,000.

While education is the Travelers Foundation's primary focus, it also provides some funding for community development and the arts. The foundation concentrates its grantmaking activities in the cities in which Travelers is headquartered: Hartford, Connecticut, and the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota. The foundation includes annual reports of previous year’s giving on the right-hand side Resources Section of its ACS page, but these reports do not detail the specific purposes of individual grants.

To be eligible for college readiness grants from the Travelers Foundation, organizations must be nonprofits, preferably located in Hartford, the Twin Cities, or other areas in which Travelers has a significant business presence. Organizations with programs or initiatives that fit more than one of the foundation's funding areas will receive greater consideration. If you have a college readiness program that also focuses on greater middle and high school achievement, for example, your chances of securing funding may be enhanced.

Interested organizations should submit an online pre-application. Travelers staff members review pre-applications and then invite full proposals from applicants that best align with the funder's goals. Travelers Foundation accepts pre-applications throughout the year and has three funding cycles.

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