Kresge Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Kresge is now one of the largest private foundations in the United States. The foundation's two main higher education grantmaking areas focus on "college access" and "strengthening institutions." Kresge prioritizes cities in the United States, while it also offers higher education grants for work in South Africa.

IP TAKE: Kresge's commitment to getting students "to and through" college creates an opening for higher education initiatives from research to classroom innovation. While Kresge does not prioritize funding higher education institutions, many universities have received grants in the past. The foundation does not accept unsolicited applications, but sometimes offers open RFP's.

PROFILE: Established by Kmart founder Sebastian Kresge in 1924, the Troy, Michigan-based Kresge Foundation “works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, community development” in America’s urban areas. Kresge funds Arts & Culture, Environment, Health, Human Services, Detroit, American Cities, and Social Investment.

Kresge’s education program is one of its most well-funded, awarding about $20 million yearly towards education. Its Education initiative features three main programs:

Aligning and Strengthening Urban Higher Education Ecosystems seeks to “improve coordination between the many systems low-income students rely on to reach their higher education goals.” Institutional Capacity Building for Student Success seeks to “help minority-serving postsecondary education institutions carry out their missions and better help low-income students succeed.” Finally, Urban Pathways to College aims to “increase the number of low-income students, both from high schools and adult populations, who get into college ready to succeed.” While the foundation operates nationally, the Education program prioritizes its four focus states—California, Florida, Michigan, and Texas—as well as three focus cities—Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans.

Grants typically range from $100,000 to $1 million. While Kresge prioritizes non-profits, universities have received grants in each of its program areas in the past. Those seeking more information about Kresge’s grantmaking habits should review its Annual Reports and Grants Database

Kresge generally does not accept unsolicited proposals, however it does occasionally offer Requests for Proposals in its various program areas. These applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are constantly changing, so interested grantseekers should check regularly to see if new opportunities have arisen.

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