McCarthey Dressman Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation, established by two education professors, supports K-12 education by funding classroom programs and professional development for educators anywhere in the United States. This foundation looks to “augment the education experiences for youth,” and is particularly sensitive to the extra roadblocks that occur in low-income environments. The foundation places a cap on the number of applications it will accept each year, so submitting an application early on is recommended.

IP TAKE: McCarthey Dressman draws on its academic understanding of the needs of K-12 education to support real-world solutions offered by schools and nonprofits alike. "Deepened" and "expanded" knowledge for students are key themes to keep in mind as cornerstones for this foundation.

PROFILE: The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation was established by Sarah McCarthey and Mark Dressman, education professors at the University of Illinois Champaign, “in recognition of the struggle educators too often face in bringing truly exceptional teaching to their students." In an effort to help alleviate that struggle, the foundation supports educators by funding projects in their classrooms and their professional development outside of them.

The McCarthey Dressman Foundation’s Academic Enrichment Grants support the development of "in-class and extra-curricular programs that improve student learning." These grants focus on projects that “foster understanding, deepen students’ knowledge, and provide opportunities to expand awareness of the world around them.” 

“Deepen” and “expand” are key words here. Funding is awarded to projects that foster intellectualism, artistry, and creativity in children from low-income households, and where the grantee is "willing to work in collaboration with the Foundation."

The foundation is fairly flexible as to how this education is provided. It can be in a traditional school environment during the school day, during an after-school program, or structured through nonprofit community organizations. An educator who applies for this classroom funding simply must have “direct and regular contact with students in grades pre-k to 12.” 

    The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation’s other avenue of K-12 support is its Teacher Development Grants. This grant category is directed exclusively at licensed K-12 public or private school teachers looking to work individually or in a team to "improve [their] classroom instruction" through an innovative and well-documented effort, again in collaboration with the foundation. Unlike its Academic Enrichment counterpart, this line of funding is not focused directly on educators working with low-income student populations, though it certainly can’t hurt to be a teacher in such a classroom.

    No matter where the educator works, the foundation seeks to support development opportunities that ultimately create passion among students and fellow educators. Successful proposals in this realm are those that “provide opportunities for teachers to integrate fresh strategies that encourage critical inquiry and to observe their effects on students.”

    Eagerness, imagination, and well-though consideration in improving your quality of classroom instruction are key components here. And given that this is a foundation established by education professors, teachers applying for this funding should also be prepared to “document [their] new approach in detail.”

    For both Academic Enrichment and Teacher Development projects, grant awards are up to $10,000 annually for up to three years. The foundation maintains a list of project summaries that give overviews of past grantees it has supported, as well as a featured projects page where the foundation posts blog entries that offer a more detailed look into the specifics of some of those initiatives. 

    Lastly, on a more restricted basis, the foundation offers a $6,000 scholarship as well as "mentoring support to educators who will be student teaching in their final year of a qualified teacher education program" at four universities: New Mexico State University, U.C. Santa Cruz, The University of Texas at Austin, and Stephen F. Austin State University. Applications for the scholarships require full-time enrollment as well as demonstration of a passion for teaching, identification of the ways in which a mentorship would benefit the applicant, and proof of financial need.

    Applications in all award categories are available online and must be submitted between January 15 and April 15, and grants are awarded in mid-August. The foundation does allow simultaneous applications for both the Teacher Development and Academic Enrichment funding streams, so long as each application is unique and specifically tailored to the specific goals and priorities of the relevant grant area.

    McCarthey Dressman recommends that you submit your application early, since the foundation places a cap (listed on its home page) on the total number of applications it will accept in any given year.

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