Heckscher Foundation for Children: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Primarily serving the New York Metro area, the Heckscher Foundation seeks to "level the playing field" for low-income and underserved youths. Its higher education funding supports programs that prepare students for college, increase access to higher education, and ensure academic success.

IP TAKE: Although Heckscher is a major funder of NYC schools, it is willing to consider any academic initiative designed to close the achievement gap or otherwise assist underserved youth. However, accepts applications by invitation only.

PROFILE: Since 1921, the Heckscher Foundation has worked "to promote the welfare of children in New York and elsewhere throughout the United States." To that end, the foundation supports "youth-serving organizations in the fields of education, family services, child welfare, health, arts and recreation." Heckscher funds Education, Workforce Development, and Capacity Building and Technical Assistance.

Heckscher conducts grantmaking for higher education through its Education program, which broadly supports “programs in superior public, private, parochial and alternative schools, as well as those that prepare students for success as they transition from one school or academic level to another.” When assessing applicants, it gives “substantial weight to those that critically assess their own performance using objective criteria,” such as improved grades, standardized test scores, literacy gains, college admissions rates, and high school and college graduation rates. While the program does not focus exclusively on higher education, it funds the area generously.

Heckscher also runs the Heckscher Scholars Program, which offers capacity-building for NYC nonprofits and gives the city's public school students "college access and career readiness programming." Awardees take part in a two-year program that provides them with “academic support, college access, career readiness, and life skills.” Services include college application counseling, SAT and ACT tutoring, and summer programs and internships. The application process is not clear, but the foundation invites interested parties to contact it by email.

While Heckscher does not publicize its grant amounts, there is no minimum or maximum amount for a grant request. Organizations whose work benefits New York City have also received past funding. For instance, Heckscher gave Bottom Line (a national group that provides counseling services to students applying for college) seed funding to expand its program into the city, and supported programs include CollegeSpring and QuestBridge that were also expanding into New York. While the foundation does not feature a searchable database of past grant recipients, it does publish its Yearly Reports.

Heckscher's applications are by invitation only and it does not respond to unsolicited requests. Grantseekers are advised to review the foundation's application and grant guidelines.

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