Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation emphasizes K-12 education across the United States and supports a broad range of research and interventions in teaching, learning, and innovation with the aim of improving educational outcomes.

IP TAKE: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation outlines specific K-12 funding initiatives and identifies school districts and nonprofits suited to carrying out this work. The foundation occasionally posts public RFPs on its website.

PROFILE: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 2000 by Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, and is based in Seattle, Washington. Believing that “all lives have equal value,” this foundation pursues four main initiatives: to ensure that more children “survive and thrive,” to empower the poor, to combat infectious disease, and “to inspire people to take action and change their world.”

Within the “survive and thrive” funding line, the foundation has established a specific strategy for K-12 funding—to “support innovation that can improve U.S. K-12 public schools and ensure that students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college.” Specifically, the foundation supports research and interventions that concern the quality of teaching, the implementation of common core standards, and the use of technology to enhance educational experiences. Recent grantees include the New Teacher Center, which provides mentoring to novice teachers and studies its effect on students, and Education Trust, an advocacy group that promotes high quality educational opportunities for minority students in the U.S. The Gates Foundation has also partnered with many public school districts as they implement technology-enhanced curricula in classrooms. A searchable database of awarded grants and a selection of grantee profiles are available on the foundation’s website. 

The Gates Foundation does not accept proposals, but invites organizations that it believes are well suited to carry out its objectives to propose and discuss projects. The foundation occasionally posts public RFPs on its website, to which nonprofits may respond. In 2017, grants ranged from $50,000 to $10 million. This foundation does not set geographic restrictions to their grantmaking.