Harry Chapin Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Harry Chapin Foundation, named for the singer-songwriter, focuses on community education, arts-in-education, and agricultural and environmental programs, all in the name of improving people’s lives by creating self-sufficiency. The Harry Chapin Foundation doesn’t have a specific category of K-12 education giving, but in practice shows a consistent focus on this age group. 

IP TAKE: This foundation's key K-12 funding areas are arts education and environmental education. An open application is available to any non-profit in the U.S.

PROFILE: The Harry Chapin Foundation was established in 1981 in the name and honor of the iconic American singer-songwriter, with seed money from his former manager, Ken Kragen, and another American songster, Kenny Rogers.

The foundation’s mission is “to support organizations that have demonstrated their ability to dramatically improve the lives and livelihood of people by helping them to become self-sufficient.” The foundation pursues this through three avenues of giving: Community Education Programs, Arts-In-Education Programs, and Agricultural and Environmental Programs, with maximum grants of $10,000 for a one-year period. (An organization is then welcome to apply again.)

Though support of K-12 education isn’t its own explicit category, the foundation’s giving history makes it clear that this age group is a priority. This is expressed through its arts education focus, such as its grants of 5,000 to the Community Word Project (New York, NY); $4,000 to Media Arts in Public School (Los Angeles, CA); $4,000 to Cornerstone Schools’ music programs (Detroit, MI); $3,000 to Guitars in the Classroom (headquartered in Encinitas, CA but operating in multiple states), and $3,000 to Create Now (Los Angeles, CA).

The Harry Chapin Foundation also gives to K-12 education through its agriculture and environmental focus, including recent grants of $7,000 to the Massachusetts Avenue Project (Buffalo, NY) and $2,600 to Snipes Farm and Education Center (Morrisville, PA).

Though its recent K-12 education giving has been a bit California-focused, the foundation reports that of the more than $1.7 million it has distributed through 2012 to 413 organizations, just over half of those groups operate out of the state of New York, and the remaining grants have been distributed throughout the U.S.

Indeed, the foundation states that it will give anywhere, so long as the requesting organization is a 501(c)(3), and it has an open application process to boot.

The Harry Chapin Foundation gives no further stipulations, nor any lofty language in terms of what it seeks from the programs of its grantees. But do keep in mind that it’s the foundation’s mission to “improve lives and livelihood” through self-sufficiency, a useful framework for your K-12 education ask. Applications do not need to follow a specific format, but should be sent to the attention of the foundation's Executive Director.

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