Ayrshire Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

[Placed in draft because of restructuring and limited geographic focus. Check back in 2018. -AZ]


OVERVIEW: The Ayrshire Foundation views philanthropy as investment in world betterment, and spreads its wealth across a wide range of opportunities to support change: youth, the elderly and disabled, science and the environment, healthcare, and community culture. Opportunities for youth are a key aspect of its investment, with K-12 education at the forefront. Most of its giving is focused on two areas: Southern California, and Little Traverse, Michigan, but there are exceptions to these preferences.

IP TAKE: Besides its geographic preferences, the Ayrshire Foundation has very few hard-and-fast rules for giving. The bottom line is it gives a lot of money each year in order to invest in opportunities for a better world. 

PROFILE: The Ayrshire Foundation was founded in 1998 by James N. Gamble (the great-grandson of the founder of Procter & Gamble) and his family in order to broaden the scope of their already-established personal philanthropy.

Before reading any further, an important note. In July 2015, the Ayrshire Foundation split into two separate organizations: one retaining the Ayrshire name and focusing mainly on Southern California and Traverse, Michigan, and the other (based in Northern California) spinning off a new organization, the Caldera Foundation. According to Ayrshire, the foundation "is currently fully committed through 2018," so grantseekers may want to check back once the dust has settled from their reorganization.

The foundation sees its grants as an “investment in the possibility of change and a better world.” To that end, its giving is broad in scope, although, interestingly, its website frames its current focus as actually narrowing from its original mission to now concentrate in these five areas: Youth Opportunities, Science & Environment, Healthcare, Services for the Elderly and Disabled, and Community Culture.

Support of K-12 education falls under the Ayrshire Foundation’s Youth Opportunities giving, which the foundation prioritizes with a mission of “strategically investing in young people to help them achieve their potential, equipping them for tomorrow’s challenges.”

Though you are ultimately looking for support for your K-12 education program, and therefore are focusing on the foundation’s Youth Opportunities giving, it’s important to be aware of its other four areas of focus as well. Whenever possible, this is a foundation that likes to serve cross purposes (see granting examples below).

Before we go any further, an important declaration about the Ayrshire Foundation’s geographic priorities: The foundation gives "preference" to the locales mentioned above. The foundation uses the word “preference,” suggestive of some flexibility beyond this geographic scope. In practice, support of anything outside of these locations is very minimal, and is best reflected in programs that might be broader in scope (regional or national) but are still headquartered or linked to one of these three geographic areas.

If you can tie your K-12 education program to one of these locations, there is a wealth of possibility available to you with this foundation. That starts because of the foundation’s literal wealth. The Ayrshire Foundation distributes approximately $1 million each year, with most individual grants falling between $10,000 to $100,000. This wide range reflects the fact that for the Ayrshire Foundation it’s about “strategic philanthropy,” and it looks to target and tailor support to any given program’s needs—again, the end-game here is investment. The foundation describes itself as “effective seeders.”

Grants from the Ayrshire Foundation may be one-shot deals or extend several years.  The Ayrshire Foundation also likes the prospect of partnering with other foundations and/or serving as a matching grant incentive for other givers. Regardless of the partnerships or incentives, because this is a foundation that is looking to invest, it is not keen to allocate grants for general operating support. As the foundation states, it instead seeks to support “other than usual operations—i.e. providing seed money for new programs or agencies designed to meet unfilled needs in the communities involved.”

Examples of Ayrshire Foundation support of K-12 education include:

The Ayrshire Foundation requires potential grantees to first fill out a brief online form. If you’ve piqued the foundation’s interest, it will invite you to submit a full proposal.


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