Georgia-Pacific Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Georgia-Pacific Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the U.S.-based papermaking company, has a directive to “improve life in the communities where we live and work.” It seeks this improvement by giving in four areas: education, the environment, community enrichment and entrepreneurship.

IP TAKE: This foundation has a higher education focus in its scholarship programs, but also differentiates itself by giving all of its dollars as general operating support. A mission to better the communities where the company has offices means you have to operate in or near one, but the good news is that corporate locations are all around the country.

PROFILE: The Georgia-Pacific Foundation was established in 1958 by the papermaking and manufacturing company,  now headquartered in Atlanta. The foundation views itself as a community-based philanthropic funder, and focuses on four areas of “investment”: Education, Environment, Enrichment and Entrepreneurship.

When it comes to higher education, the Georgia-Pacific Foundation focuses on college scholarships, but it pays to be mindful of the funder's other related education interests: job training, literacy and teacher development.

Regardless of how you define your project, a unique aspect of Georgia-Pacific Foundation giving is that it comes to you as general operating support. But even though it generalizes its funding, this foundation has rigorous expectations for your program's impact, with an application that asks you to discuss how your program will be able to tangibly measure improvement in the community you serve. But the foundation has a lofty vision of purpose, too (it likes to use the word “potential”) so don't be deterred from pitching a project that aspires as much as it provides measurable, results-oriented outcomes—just be sure not to forsake the latter.

In terms of those communities where the Georgia-Pacific Foundation is looking to unlock student potential: your college or university must be located within 30 miles of one of Georgia-Pacific’s facilities. The company has a presence in 32 states, with multiple locations in many (10 in Texas, nine in Oregon, seven in California, four in Virginia, and four in Michigan, for example) so this geographic restriction still allows for a lot of eligibility for a foundation grant.

The Georgia-Pacific Foundation places no strict parameters on grant amounts, saying, "when deciding what or if we will contribute, we consider the value of the program to our communities and the amount we have available to donate." But you will be required to put a specific ask amount into your application. For higher education giving, the basic range is $3,000 to $20,000 (with outliers on both sides).

Recent higher education grantees include:

  • $60,000 to University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)
  • $25,000 to Columbia College (Chicago, IL)
  • $13,320 to Mississippi State University (Mississippi State University, MS)
  • $12,000 to University of South Alabama (Mobile, AL)
  • $10,000 to Altamaha Technical College (Jesup, GA)
  • $9,000 to University of Arkansas (Monticello, AR)
  • $6,500 to Central Virginia Community College (Lynchburg, VA)
  • $6,000 to Florence Darlington Technical College (Florence, SC)
  • $4,000 to Plattsburgh College (Plattsburgh, NY)
  • $3,500 to Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI)
  • $2,000 to Texas A&M University (College Station, TX).

The Georgia-Pacific Foundation also supports college scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship program, recently giving $367,840.

The Georgia-Pacific Foundation has an open application process with a recently revised application. It's a rolling application, and the foundation states you'll receive notification within 60 days.

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