Georgia-Pacific Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Georgia-Pacific Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the U.S.-based papermaking company, has a directive to “improve life in the communities where we live and work.” It seeks this improvement by giving in four areas: Education, the environment, community enrichment and economic/workforce development. The foundation differentiates itself through the large number of grants it gives individual schools and school districts for general operating support. 

IP TAKE: This foundation has specific focuses on education and job readiness, and it expects measurable results. A mission to better the communities where the company has offices means you have to operate in or near one, but the good news is that corporate locations are all around the country.

PROFILE: The Georgia-Pacific Foundation was established in 1958 by the papermaking and manufacturing company now headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The foundation views itself as a community-based philanthropic funder, and focuses on four areas of “investment”: Education, Environment, Enrichment and Entrepreneurship.

When it comes to K-12 education, the Georgia-Pacific Foundation has differentiated itself by giving a large number of grants directly to individual schools and districts for general operating support. In one recent year, more than 60 percent of its K-12 education grants fell into this category. Those amounts have ranged from $250 to $27,500, but most have fallen in the $1,000-$5,000—with traditional public schools dominating. 

General operating support is a boon to an education grant search, including for the K-12 student set, because it sees these areas as avenues for students to fulfill potential. Priority education funding the foundation has identified includes support for K-12 in areas like "STEM, robotics and reading programs; general support, books, [and] school supplies," "entrepreneurship education" in public high schools, literacy, workforce preparedness, teacher training, and postsecondary scholarships.

Even if your idea for a K-12 education program deviates from on of those areas, this foundation has a very direct, “results-driven” approach to its support of education: it’s about how education improves community. And like many other granting institutions, its application asks you to discuss how you will be able to measure this improvement in your program’s results.

But the foundation has a lofty vision of purpose, too. It also likes to use the word “potential,” so do not be deterred from pitching a project that aspires as much as it provides measurable, results-oriented outcomes—just be sure not to forsake the latter.

In terms of those communities where the Georgia-Pacific Foundation is looking to unlock student potential: your school or organization must be located within 30 miles of one of Georgia-Pacific’s facilities. The company has a presence in 32 states, with multiple locations in many (10 in Texas, nine in Oregon, seven in California, four in Virginia, and four in Michigan, for example) so this geographic restriction still allows for a lot of eligibility for a foundation grant.

The foundation also funds community-based education programs. The volume here has been historically lower, but still substantial. In addition to directly giving to schools, like many other K-12 funders, Georgia-Pacific has shown a fondness for groups like Teach for America, Junior Achievement, and Girls, Inc., which it has supported in various instances and locations in recent years.

Select other community-based K-12 education initiatives supported by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation in a recent year (all for general operating support) include:

The Georgia-Pacific Foundation has an open application process. It was recently revised, so check the foundation's website for more details.

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