Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education


OVERVIEW: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has four major program areas: Science, Environmental Conservation, Patient Care, and projects specific to the San Francisco Bay Area. The overwhelming majority of its education projects are focused on higher ed, but some science-related K-12 funding is available.

IP TAKE: For science and technology museums and organizations working on new and improved science learning assessments in California’s Bay Area, Moore is an ideal funder. Outside of this region, however, K-12 education funding is limited, and the foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals.

PROFILE: Established in 2000 and based in San Francisco, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is guided by a vision of “Creating positive outcomes for future generations, which it pursues by supporting four key areas: “path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements, and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area.”

The Moore Foundation dedicates a significant portion of its STEM grantmaking funds to what it refers to as its "major core investments." These include the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech; the Marine Microbiology Initiative; a plant science collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and the Thirty Millimeter Telescope.

Moore's core investments are its first priority in science and STEM grantmaking. However, the foundation does have one sub-program worth exploring for K-12 fundraisers: Science Learning Assessment, a sub-program of its Science program. As the foundation describes it, SLA “aims to demonstrate new techniques and tools for measuring the most important science learning outcomes.” The focus here is on “projects that drive innovations in what and how we assess science learning.” In this area, the foundation generally works “outside of schools and classrooms,” but remains open to “collaborations that can help bridge our work to other learning settings, including schools.”

The foundation also funds short-term special projects, some of which also involve K-12 education. One such recent effort, the 2014 Science Play and Research Kit (SPARK) Competition, was a joint effort with the Society for Science & the Public, in which contestants were asked “to reimagine the chemistry set for the 21st century to generate a new set of experiences and activities that spark imagination and sustained interest in science and technology.”

Moore’s funding for Bay Area Science and Technology Museums is less specifically targeted at K-12 education, though the foundation does see its work in this area as complementary to the Science Learning Assessment sub-program other K-12 efforts. The goal of this initiative is to reach a “large and diverse audience” through efforts that “activate the inner scientist in all of us and lay a foundation for broad appreciation of science in the world around us.” To that end, the foundation “support[s] educational programming, design of exhibit experiences, teacher development and research and evaluation” at the institutions it funds.

A more in-depth look into these projects and more is available at the foundation’s grants list database.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the Moore Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals—a decision explained in more detail in a document explaining its founders’ intent. Instead, its staff researches a large number of organizations annually and reaches out to those in which the foundation has interest.


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