Michael and Susan Dell Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation supports K-12 education in the U.S., India and South Africa through its urban education initiative, prioritizing school reform, school choice, individualized instruction and the use of quantitative data as a means of improving outcomes for underserved students.

IP TAKE: The Susan and Michael Dell Foundation's urban education initiative operates in the U.S., India and South Africa. Partnering with established organizations that are "already making a difference," the foundation invests in reform, school choice, instruction, and the use of quantitative data to improve outcomes for underprivileged students. This funder does not accept unsolicited proposals.

PROFILE: Based in Austin, Texas, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation was established by Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell with his wife, Susan, in 1999. The foundation works to help children who live in urban poverty. While the foundation initially focused its efforts on the Central Texas area, it now works with organizations around the world in its four funding areas: urban education, college success, family economic stability and health and wellness.

Dell's K-12 education funding stems mainly from its urban education program, which is "committed to helping underserved students improve academic performance and increasing access to quality education." The program operates in the U.S., India and South Africa. The U.S. arm of the initiative supports quality school options, data driven education, and the signature Ed-Fi Alliance system. The quality school options initiative invests in cities that are committed to increasing the number of high performing schools available to residents and the development and expansion of such schools in areas of high need. One grantee in this area is the Oakland, California Unified School District, which launched an accountability system that makes public school data available to all district stakeholders. Dell's data driven education program aims to help teachers gather and use relevant information about students as a means of tailoring instruction to specific needs. One grantee, Transcend, Inc., used funding to develop technology-enhanced personalized learning models for diverse classrooms with highly varied proficiency levels. Dell's signature program, the Ed-Fi Alliance, is a meta-system that makes student data available to teachers and administrators across classrooms, schools and districts. 

In India, Dell aims to support the overall improvement of the education that is available to students living in urban poverty. Through its data assessment and evaluation initiative, the foundation has invested in Gray Matters India, which provides standardized assessments to public and affordable private urban schools. The foundation also invests is school system transformation through partnerships with educational consulting companies that work toward changing learning goals, instructional methods and school operations on a large scale. And through its education innovation program, Dell funds programs that "drive rapid and measurable improvements in children's academic outcomes," including programs provided by for-profit companies. One grantee, Project Sankalp, used funding to create high-quality, technology-based science and math programs for government schools.

In South Africa, Dell's urban education program has partnered with the nation's Department of Basic Education to improve the overall quality of education available to disadvantaged children. The collaboration schools initiative, similar to the charter school movement in the U.S., engages independent nonprofit organizations in the management and evaluation of no-fee schools. The data-driven districts initiative aims to support the collection of South African education data so that it may be analyzed and used to target intervention. The Jumpstart Foundation, for example, extracted data on early numeracy to determine areas of need and implement appropriate remedial measures.

Dell's urban education initiative funds only established organizations that are "already making a difference" in the U.S., India and South Africa. Grants range from $350,000 to over $3 million. A database of funded projects is available at the foundation's website. 

This funder does not accept unsolicited proposals. General inquiries may be made via email.

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