Macy's Inc.: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Philanthropy at Macy’s Inc. is directed toward education, arts and culture, the environment, HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and domestic violence.  Giving flows through the Macy’s Foundation for programs operating on a national scale, and through the corporation for local-level programming. Macy’s makes substantial and widespread contributions to education programs, particularly directly to the schools themselves, including hundreds in the K-12 realm.

IP TAKE: Some of Macy's giving happens through the foundation for national and high-profile programming, but much more of it has historically occurred locally through the corporation. Macy's recently stated, however, that as of 2016, grants would be by invitation only.

PROFILE: Macy’s Inc., which these days includes Blooomingdales department stores due to corporate consolidation, is a big player in the world of corporate philanthropy—both through a formal foundation (the Macy’s Foundation) and through the company itself (a program called My Macy’s District Grants).

In some ways, the foundation versus corporation giving is a moot point, because both sides have the same five areas of philanthropic focus: Arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS and “women’s issues” (with primary focus on women’s health and domestic violence).

The My Macy’s District Grants program was established in 2010. In one recent year, it gave out $3.4 million to more than 1,200 organizations across its five areas of focus.

Historically, the My Macy’s District Grants have given generously and flexibly. Organizations can apply via either an “Event” application or a “Grant” application. Both are useful for K-12 programming. Macy’s defines the Event category to include performances, exhibitions, and fundraisers (though it will not support athletic teams or events). The Grant category is for “general operating, project, and program support” (though it will not cover salaries).

In its most recent annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report, Macy's emphasized its education-related support in the areas of "scholarship programs, summer reading programs, mentoring and tutoring, and early childhood education initiatives."

That said, a corporation is looking to positively impact community—that’s why it grants at a community-level. So if your K-12 education program serves those in particular need, or addresses a specific academic area that is typically under-addressed in your community, so much the better.

It’s a requirement that your school or education organization operate as a 501(c)(3) and is engaged with a community in which Macy’s and/or Bloomingdales has a presence (they’re virtually everywhere in the country except Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi and Nebraska).

For a recent fiscal year, Macy’s Inc. support of K-12 education spanned gifts that ranged from $25 to $102,000. This giving included support of hundreds of individual schools, including traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools and parochial schools of many religions and denominations; the only stipulation is that Macy’s will not support programming that is of “primarily religious purposes." 

Macy's has also given to state and national K-12 education initiatives, community K-12 education programs,  arts education, environmental education, and STEM education. Grants have also gone to non-profit organizations working to improve K-12 education on a systemic (state or national) level, as well as to local programs addressing specific K-12 education needs within their communities. Lastly, past funding has gone to non-profit organizations that position K-12 students to reach and succeed in college, including programs that place students in and provide scholarships to advantageous K-12 schools that will lead them there. 

An important note: historically, the corporate side of Macy's has accepted grant applications on an open process (as opposed to the foundation, which has always been invite-only). However, the company's web site, in a recent post that has since been removed, stated that, "Grant applications will be accepted by invitation only in 2016." To get on their radar, your best bet may be to reach out to a local Macy's representative.

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