Citi Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Citi Bank's corporate responsibility program has made education a major priority. The foundation's U.S. Youth Economic Opportunities program is the primary driver of its K-12 support and focuses on grants that target underserved young people, and supports organizations through direct service programs, capacity-building, and reseach- and policy-oriented "systems change." More specifically, Citi has supported programs geared towards helping students prepare for college and/or the workforce, and many grants have supported innovative programs that include counseling and financial planning. 

IP TAKE:  A major goal of the foundation is to provide underserved youth (age 16-24) with improved employment and entrepreneurship opportunities as well as financial literacy, and Citi's K-12 support therefore seeks to prepare students to enter college and/or the workforce. Grantseekers should highlight measurable results and a track record of success in their applications, but keep in mind that proposals and letters of inquiry are by invitation only.

PROFILE: The Citi Foundation's philanthropy is intended "to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world." To that end, it seeks to "increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities," as well as take advantage of the corporation's human capital to "drive thought leadership and innovation" in fulfilling its mission.

For K-12 education, a key area is its U.S. Youth Economic Opportunities program, which looks above all "to increase the number of low-income youth who complete postsecondary (college-level) education, gain skills to enhance employability, become employed or start their own income-generating business." Within this scope, as well as its overall grantseeking approach, Citi's funding is allocated to direct service programs, organizational capacity-building and planning, and "systems change" through efforts that bring together multiple stakeholders or research that analyzes "successful interventions to increase youths’ employability prospects or entrepreneurship activity."

A key element of the Youth Economic Opportunity program is Citi's Pathways to Progress Initiative. This $50 million, three-year initiative started in 2014 and aims to provide "entrepreneurship training, civic engagement opportunities, mentorship, and summertime employment" to 100,000 low-income youth. This is achieved by a number of sub-programs and doesn't focus exclusively on K-12 students: projects that support young people aged 16 to 24 are eligible for funding. Important to note is the Pathways Initiative's geographic focus, which is restricted to the cities of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Citi's commitment to youth stretches into other focus areas and regions as well.  Its Financial Inclusion program, for example, is targeted at increasing "the number of low-income adults or youth who adopt positive financial behaviors and accumulate and preserve financial assets." Internationally, meanwhile, the Youth Economic Opportunities program has distributed millions of dollars abroad annually, and particularly highlights its longstanding relationship with Junior Achievement, a nonprofit "dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs." So whether you're focused on educational, vocational, or financial training for youth in South L.A. or South Africa, there is an opportunity to get support from the Citi Foundation. 

In recent years, Citi's K-12 education support has tended to range from $50,000 to $100,000 per grant. That said, the foundation has awarded a notable number of larger grants, all of which can be reviewed by year, program and region in the foundation's Grant Search database.

In the past, Citi has also funded additional areas related to K-12.  Two examples include research on the U.S. educational system as well as global competition.  Additionally, its College Success program awarded grants to organizations helping students, particularly those in low- to moderate-income families, work toward graduating from high school, enrolling in and graduating from college, and develop college savings and financing strategies - efforts that now appear to fall under the umbrella of Youth Economic Opportunity.

The biggest hurdle for fundraisers is the selectivity of Citi Foundation's grantmaking approach. Applications are accepted by invitation only "from organizations with demonstrated successes in its outlined focus areas, and the foundation "will not review any unsolicited letters of inquiry or proposals." Organizations hoping to grab this funder's attention can start by reviewing its grant guidelines and reports and resources.

PEOPLE:

  • Rosemary Byrnes, Senior Program Officer, U.S. Youth Economic Opportunities
  • Tia Hodges, Program Officer, Youth Economic Opportunities and Pathways to Success
  • Lia Cartagena, Program Officer, International Grant Program Coordinator and Latin America Grantmaking Manager
  • Monica Mecca, Program Officer, Grantmaking in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa
  • Dorothy Stuehmke, Program Officer, Grantmaking in Asia Pacific region

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