Broad Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is dedicated to improving effectiveness, quality, and access in urban school districts, with a particular eye towards ensuring that students - especially low-income students and students of color - are prepared for the economic challenges of the future. Broad awards education grants to school districts and charter management organizations (rather than individual schools) in addition to philosophically-aligned research. A self-described "entrepreneurial venture philanthropy," Broad views its giving as an investment and works closely with grantees to ensure that they are meeting their goals and providing measurable returns. 

IP TAKE: It's a challenge to earn education funding from this foundation since it tends to award grants by invitation only, but if you are focused on urban education and offer measurable results, strong leadership, and innovative programming, you're right in line with what Broad funds. 

PROFILE: One of the wealthiest people in the world, entrepreneur Eli Broad founded the Broad Foundation with his wife Edythe in 1999 with the mission "to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed." Broad breaks its funding interests into four categories: Transformative Federal and State Policy, Groundbreaking Innovation in Teaching and Learning, Strong Leadership, and Redesigned, High-Performing Institutions.

Fundraisers should know one overarching fact about Broad's K-12 education grantmaking: The foundation supports the reformation of the current education bureaucracy that it sees as standing in the way of transforming the public education system. Its website contains a list of dozens of ways in which it believes that bureaucracy stymies the work of teachers and students.

To this end, the foundation seeks out innovative ideas aimed at changing policy — such as those the foundation cites on its website as interfering with teachers and students. It has been a supporter of the education reform movement in general, and of charter schools, research and advocacy initiatives, integration of technology, improvements in education quality, transparency, and accountability, leadership initiatives for students, teachers, and administrators, and efforts to close the achievement gap. Importantly, Broad's education grants go to school districts and charter management organizations (rather than individual schools), in addition to support for "research in areas that align with our investment strategy."

Broad doesn't necessarily make a large number of education grants each year. With many grants being awarded to some of the largest and most needy school districts as well as national education organizations, smaller school districts and lesser-known national organizations may find it harder to compete. 

Innovation coupled with strong leadership is key for Broad's education grants, which it lists on its Current Investments page. 

In addition to its grantmaking, the foundation has three "flagship initiatives": the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which offers scholarships to students in high-performing urban districts; The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, "given to the urban public charter school management organization that demonstrates the most outstanding overall student performance and improvement in the country"; and The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, which seeks "to raise student achievement by recruiting, training and supporting leadership talent from across America to transform urban public school systems."

Broad does not currently accept unsolicited proposals. Rather, as the foundation explains in its FAQs, it "proactively seek[s] out investments that align with our mission to dramatically improve urban K-12 public education." 

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