Anschutz Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: With more than $1 billion in assets, the Anschutz Foundation (not to be confused with the Anschutz Family Foundation) centers its education philanthropy in Denver, where a number of public schools, charters and education reform groups have been supported. Some money also goes to national groups. 

IP TAKE: Don't let the lack of a website fool you. This funder supports a wide array of education- and youth-focused schools, programs, and organizations.

PROFILE: Billionaire Philip F. Anschutz was born in Kansas and got his B.A. in Business from the University of Kansas, graduating in 1961. After a brief stint in law school, Anschutz dropped out to rescue his dad's failing drilling business in Wyoming. From there he earned a fortune in stocks, real estate, entertainment, telecommunications, and sports.

Today, Anschutz is one of the largest land owners in the United States. His net worth was recently estimated by Forbes at more than $10 billion.

Anschutz's parents, Fred and Marian, founded the Anschutz Foundation in 1982 with money from successful ventures in real estate, oil and ranching. Anschutz and his wife Nancy later assumed control of the foundation, which these days (according to the Foundation Center) is one of the largest foundations in the country, with more than $1 billion in assets and a modest staff according to its most recent available tax filing.

Despite all this, however, true to the billionaire's private nature, the foundation isn't particularly public in its profile and doesn't even have a website. Anschutz lives in Denver, where a majority of the foundation's recent grantmaking has taken place in ed. 

Historically, the Anschutz Foundation has given in a number of different areas, including arts, health, and right-of-center public policy efforts. In addtion, a substantial portion of the $50 million it granted in a recent year was allocated to education in direct support for K-12 schools as well as out-of school / afterschool programs, postsecondary schools and programs, preschool, education reform, scholarships, teacher and principal training, and youth counseling, mentoring, and tutoring. 

Charter schools and school choice appear to be priorities. Recently, the Colorado League of Charter Schools received $100,000, and STRIVE charter schools and Axl Academy Foundation in the Denver area have also received support. In terms of school choice, the Alliance for Choice in Education and Denver Options, a unique outfit which works with homeschooled students and their families, has also seen large sums. In addition, the foundation has supported charter-aligned education groups as well as a multitude of conservative think tanks (including those with a national focus) that "promote more choice in education," as IP has reported

At the same time, Anschutz has also been a huge backer of Denver public schools. THe foundation has given millions of dollars in recent years to support the Denver Public Schools Foundation, and sums of more than $100,000 have recently gone to Kent Denver School, Arrupe Jesuit High School and Atlas Preparatory School.

Apart from Denver, KIPP Oklahoma Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation have also seen money in recent years. Teach for America, for example, recently received nearly $3 million across three years. In higher education, meanwhile, the Colorado State University has received substantial support.  Anschutz has also supported Christian P. Anschutz Foundation, his son's charitable outfit, which also has given in education, though on a much more modest level.

Some Anschutz money reaches education institutions beyond Colorado through funding work on values and character, including school programs. Anschutz has said that "food banks, charter schools, and homeless shelters are a good way to help people, but in the long run, people grounded in solid values will be better situated to prosper on their own." To that end, Anschutz has backed the Foundation for a Better Life, which puts up billboards with life-affirming quotes. The foundation also supports Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, a nonprofit that works to inspire “kindness is schools, homes and communities," to the tune of $800,000 in a recent year. Colorado UpLift, an urban youth empowerment outfit, has also seen recent funds. 

Unfortunately, despite its size, the Anschutz Foundation has no website or clear process for grantseekers, so a phone call or letter of inquiry may be the best way to get onto the foundation's radar.  

Grantseekers should note that this foundation is distinct from the Anschutz Family Foundation and other foundations carrying the family name that sometimes have overlapping funding priorities but operate as separate entities.


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The Anschutz Foundation
1727 Tremont Pl.
Denver, CO 80202