Heckscher Foundation for Children: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Heckscher Foundation for Children invests in schools and organization that make or have the potential to make measurable differences in the lives of underprivileged children.

IP TAKE: The Heckscher Foundation for Children aims to “level the playing field” for underprivileged children and youth. This results-driven foundation supports schools and organizations that improve academic, behavioral and economic outcomes for underprivileged children in the United States.

PROFILE: Based in New York City, the Heckscher Foundation for Children was established by mining and real estate tycoon August Heckscher in 1921. After incurring significant losses during the Great Depression, the foundation was restructured and maintained by Heckscher’s good friends, Arthur and Ruth Smadbeck, whose grandchildren continue to lead the foundation today. The Heckscher Foundation aims to “level the playing field” for underprivileged children. Its investment strategies focus on practical and innovative solutions to pressing needs, fostering collaboration between organizations, and “catalytic giving,” which provides support and exposure for “approaches that have the potential for wide application but have not reached a scale broad enough to attract investment by larger private foundations or government.” Heckscher’s main funding initiatives address education and academic support; arts education; heath, recreation and social services; capacity building and technical assistance and workforce development.

The Heckscher Foundation is highly selective in the schools and organizations it supports, seeking projects that have a strong potential for measurable outcomes. Its education and academic support initiative invests in established schools and organizations that improve student outcomes in terms of grades, standardized test scores, high school graduation rate and enrollment in college. Similarly, its arts education and health, recreation and social services initiatives seek programs that are aligned with academic curricula and demonstrate positive academic and behavioral outcomes. Aimed at high school and college students, Heckscher’s workforce development program supports programs that help youth develop career skills and find and maintain jobs. The capacity building and technical assistance initiative differs from Heckscher’s other grantmaking programs in that offers both financial and hands-on support to promising organizations as they grow, invest and form alliances in the community. One Heckscher Foundation grantee is Breakthrough New York, which provides low-income middle school students with academic support, guidance and enrichments as they move through high school and apply to four-year colleges. Successful in New York City, the program has launched a chapter in Miami, Florida.

While Heckscher grantees are concentrated in New York City, the foundation funds schools and organizations across the United States. It posts descriptions of recently funded projects on its website.

The Heckscher Foundation does not accept applications or respond to unsolicited proposals. General inquiries may be submitted via the foundation website.

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