Charles Stewart Mott Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Based in Flint, Michigan, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation supports community development through four main umbrella programs: Civil Society, Environment, Pathways Out of Poverty, and Flint Area. The foundation seeks to strengthen, in people and their organizations, what Charles Stewart Mott called “the capacity for accomplishment.”

IP TAKE: Mott's support of K-12 mainly comes from Pathways Out of Poverty, but there are Flint-specific and international opportunities elsewhere. Afterschool programs have been a signature area of Mott funding. 

PROFILE: Founded by Charles Stewart Mott, one of the original founders of General Motors and a three-term mayor of the city of Flint, the foundation that carries his name is rooted in the vision of a "world in which each of us is in partnership with the rest of the human race — where each individual’s quality of life is connected to the well-being of the community, both locally and globally." According to the foundation's web site, its median grants are about $100,000, and most awards fall between $15,000 and $250,000.

Wherever your K-12 education focus lies, Mott remains committed to uplift from a community level. The Mott Foundation's K-12 education giving operates from the premise that “unequal education is both a cause and effect of poverty.” It tries to resolve this inequality by supporting programs that are community-driven and that put power in the hands of students, parents, teachers, and community leaders, and its funding reaches players at all different levels: local, state, and national. Its most notable K-12 program area, Pathways to Education, consists of three sub-programs.

The first of these, Advancing Afterschool, has the goal of "improving both access to and the quality of afterschool programs for students from low- and moderate-income families" and is itself subdivided into two sub-focus areas. The Policy and Partnerships focus supports "organizations and partners with expertise in community schools, early education and other complementary approaches" as well as "key groups that work on education and afterschool policy, research, and communications at the national level." Its Quality and Innovation area, meanwhile, is directed toward "national groups that provide technical assistance and/or that regrant funds to state and local groups to support state-wide afterschool networks" as well as organizations demonstrating "innovative and research-based practices, including: digital media and learning; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); music and the arts; and service learning." It is important to note that direct service providers are not eligible for support under this initiative.

Success Beyond High School, Pathways' second subprogram, is focused on education and policy advocacy to both reduce the financial barriers to higher education access and to provide the tools students will need for sound financial management.

Lastly, the foundation's Special Initiatives efforts are invitation-only grants that aim to help Mott be "responsive to related fields of work, explore opportunities for new and complementary grantmaking, and appropriately transition and maintain support for organizations" that share its goals and vision.

In addition to the above,if you’re looking for support for international K-12 education, Mott supports those initiatives through its Civil Society program, with a geographic focus on Central/Eastern Europe, Russia, and South Africa.

Opportunities also abound through Mott’s Flint Area program support, compounding the already vast domestic possibilities through Pathways Out of Poverty program.

To get a better sense of past projects the foundation has supported, Mott offers a comprehensive grants database as well as an interactive map, each of which details past projects it has funded.

Mott's K-12 grantmaking can be challenging to navigate given its organizational structure, but its commitment to K-12 education is significant and steadfast. Proposals are accepted year-round, and Mott accepts unsolicited proposals (preferably starting with a letter of inquiry rather than a full proposal). Its Grants and Guidelines page describes in greater detail how grantseekers should approach the foundation.

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