Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, named after the private equity billionaire and his wife, is well-known for its giving for arts, culture, and higher education. But it also gives for K-12 education and has offered substantial support for a number of K-12 organizations in recent years. The foundation has ramped up its education grantmaking in recent years, mainly for universities and largely in the New York City area.

IP TAKE: K-12 fundraisers should not be discouraged, but getting in the door may be a challenge, as the foundation's online presence is minimal and there's a lack of information about its application process.

PROFILE: Kravis has been engaged in philanthropy for years, and operates his family foundation with his wife, Marie-Josee, a prominent businesswoman and a mover and shaker in her own right. The couple is based in New York, and most of their giving takes place in the city.

The couple sits on numerous boards, and has a broad range of interests. Their giving includes major gifts that have reached upwards of $100 million on more than one occasion, as IP has reported, and many smaller donations, typically in the $10,000 to $100,000 range, the largest number of which have often gone to cultural organizations. The foundation makes grants mainly in arts and culture, health, and higher education. In a recent year, according to the Foundation Center and the foundation's tax filings, the Kravis Foundation gave out a total of $21.6 million, with grant sizes ranging from as little as $200 to as high as $5 million.

The couple's K-12 giving has tended to fly under the radar, but there have been a number of sizable gifts in recent years. They have given recent support to recognizable names like Teach for America and Harlem Children's Zone. A steady stream of money has also gone to the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), whose program SEO Scholars is a free 8-year program that shepherds at-risk youth from high-school through college, in addition to a separate program, SEO Career, which provides paid internships for these same youth. 

The couple has also given to a number of scholarship programs. They've been a long-time supporter of Boys and Girls Harbor, and have supported the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Inner City Scholarship Fund (ICSF), a New York-based program that provides scholarships to pre-approved ICSF Catholic schools located throughout the city. The foundation also supported Junior Achievement, which helps support K-12 youth in their academic and professional careers, with a $250,000 gift a few years ago. 

Consistent with Henry Kravis and Marie-Josee's passion for art, some of the other educational programs they have recently funded have used artistic and other creative ways to foster learning. Consider Studio in a School, which received recent funding from the foundation and offers visual arts workshops for underserved public schools, day cares, and community organizations. Studio in a School teaches everyone from toddlers to college students. The foundation also has given to a New York City nonprofit called Chess in the Schools, which uses chess "as an educational tool to promote learning and to help young people develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving."

Richard I. Beattie, Henry Kravis' long time friend and business parter, serves as director of the foundation and on the boards of many other foundations and institutions as well. In the 1980s, Kravis was the Director of the Transition and Counsel to the Secretary of Education,where he was in charge of organizing the US. Department of Education. Later in the decade, he was on the New York City Board of Education. 

Beattie is currently the chairman of the board and founder of New Visions for Public Schools, a non-profit that describes itself as developing and implementing programs to affect system-wide changes in public education in New York City. New Visions has received a steady stream of money from the Maire-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Foundation.

The biggest challenge for fundraisers seeking to earn support from Kravis will be making initial inroads in getting noticed. As with a small but notable subset of other large foundations, the Kravis does not maintain a prominent public presence or even an official web site, and its application profess is unclear. 


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Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Foundation
730 Fifth Ave., 8th Fl.
New York, NY 10019
Telephone: (212) 271-9933