Edna McConnell Clark Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Edna McConnell Clark supports the development and educational achievements of underserved people between ages 9 -24.

IP TAKE: The foundation seeks organizations that work on a large scale. It prioritizes large and established organizations in that it requires an organization’s annual operating budget exceed $1 million. Grantseekers must be able to discuss measurable results, scalability, and big footprints.

PROFILE:  Established in the 1950s with assets from the Avon cosmetics fortune, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation honors its founder, an heiress to the Avon cosmetics fortune. The foundation strives to incorporate five core values into its grantmaking and partnerships: humility, belief in people, pragmatism, trust, and high standards. The foundation believes itself an investor, not simply a grantor. The difference is more than semantics; the foundation selects its nonprofits with a desire to fund them for several years; in turn, it expects rigorous, measurable results. EMDCF primarily invests in K-12 education.

The foundation facilitates investing in K-12 education through its Youth Development FundBlue Meridian Partners, and PropelNext. The foundation seeks to affect change by funding programs that support “young people,” or those between the ages of 9 - 24, to improve “educational skills and achievement,” job and “economic self-sufficiency” preparedness; and avoid “irresponsible and unproductive behaviors such as teen pregnancy and crime.” EMCF invests in projects that emphasize underserved populations, which it defines as “the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach youth, those least likely to succeed without assistance” who are not only “poor,” but are also at a vulnerable crossroads related to school attendance, employment, the juvenile justice system, foster care, and “risky behaviors.”

While the foundation's definitions are not nuanced or intersectional, it supports educational achievements, college preparation, and empowerment with generous grants that range between $100,000 to $500,000 range; however, it makes several grants of $1 million or more. It prioritizes established organizations with annual operating budgets that exceed $1 million. Grantseekers must be able to discuss measurable results, scalability, and big footprints. The foundation also implements a rigorous system to measure program outcomes. Recent grantees include Communities in Schools in Arlington, VA; Reading Partners in Oakland, CA; the Gateway to College National Network in Portland, OR; and Studio in a School in New York, NY.

The foundation's Youth Organizations Survey Form (its version of an LOI) is open to all on an ongoing basis.

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