GE Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The GE Foundation has been granting awards to educational institutions since the late 1980s. The foundation's major funding areas are in Health, Skills, Education and Public Policy. Higher ed support comes in the form of funding for academic research, conferences, program support, scholarships and a matching gifts program.

IP TAKE: GE's higher ed funding isn't as extensive as its K-12 commitments, but there are still a lot of postsecondary dollars to go around through its other programs. Unfortunately, unsolicited proposals are "discouraged." 

PROFILE: The GE Foundation is dedicated to solving “some of the world’s most difficult problems,” and this includes U.S. education.

Much of GE's grantmaking happens through the Developing Futures in Education program, which is focused on K-12 support for seven major urban school districts. Through this program, the GE Foundation has dedicated resources and corporate expertise to train administrators and teachers across those school districts and to expand access to programs that prepare students for success after high school. According to GE, the Developing Futures Program has invested more than $225 million and thousands of hours to support student achievement and professional development for teachers in public schools across the U.S.

But the foundation also supports higher ed by allocating funds towards academic research, conferences, and program support. Under the “Developing Health Globally” initiative of its Health program, for example, GE has backed the Emory University Center for Global Safe Water (CGSW), which “works to evaluate needs for safe water and promote changes in practice through research, training and capacity-building.” 

On the domestic side, GE has also been a supporter of U.S. university health initiatives. For example, it recently gave a $1.5 million, three-year grant to Duke University and Engineering World Health to help "establish [a] biomedical equipment training program in Nigeria." And in a recent year, the foundation awarded a massive $14 million, three-year grant to the University of New Mexico's Project ECHO, which works to "provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities."

But GE's support for universities is not exclusive to health initiatives; it also has a program in Public Policy, where it "funds initiatives that enhance public policy dialogue." For example, the foundation recently sponsored a conference on the North American Free Trade Agreement at American University in Washington, D.C., to the tune of $30,000.

In addition to its grants, the GE Foundation also offers a number of postsecondary scholarships. Many of these awards are geared specifically at students in STEM, business, or related fields, and/or are directed to benefit minority and low-income students through financial assistance, help towards college completion, mentorship programs, and leadership development. According to the foundation, these awards total more than $27.5 million to date. Scholarship support also sometimes comes through direct grants, such as a recent award to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, which provides Latino families with scholarships, resources, and support, and another to the GE Foundation Scholars Program at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

Finally, postsecondary ed funding is available through GE’s matching gifts program, which matches employee contributions to qualifying schools dollar-for-dollar and boasts more than $1.2 billion in giving since it began in 1954. Organizations in more than 75 countries are eligible to receive funds through this program. In one recent year, matching gifts tended to be on the lower side - generally a few hundred dollars - but sometimes came in at upwards of $25,000 or $50,000.

Although GE's foundation doesn't offer much help to those looking for funding and "does not encourage unsolicited proposals," sending an email to gefoundation@ge.com wouldn't be a bad place to start.

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