Meadows Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Dallas-based Meadows Foundation wants to impact the education landscape of Texas. Its grantmaking activities support teacher training, college readiness and access, and improved achievement among high-need students.

IP TAKE: This funder's K-12 funding exclusively supports organizations based in or working in the state of Texas, with a particular focus on the Dallas area. It is focused on supporting programs from direct service providers and welcomes phone calls and emails to its grants staff, but discourages letters of inquiry and prefers that grantseekers instead submit a full application.

PROFILE: Situated deep in the heart of Texas, the Meadows Foundation, founded in 1948, has the broad mission to "assist people and institutions of Texas in improving the quality and circumstances of life for themselves and future generations."

For this foundation, established by oilman Algur Meadows and his wife, Virginia, education is a crucial part of that mission. The foundation's recent education grantmaking has averaged between about $3 million and $6 million per year, and a total of more than $775 million across all funding areas since its founding. Other funding areas include arts and culture, civic/public affairs/environment, health, and human services. Funding from Meadows is generally for specific projects rather than general operating expenses.

As stated above, the first thing to know about Meadows is that your organization must be based in the Lone Star State or, in the case of national organizations, have projects and programs in Texas to be considered for funding. More specifically, between 30% and 50% of the foundations' annual funding is allocated specifically to organizations operating in the Dallas area.

In years past, Meadows concentrated its education grantmaking on projects that furthered the following goals: early childhood development, reading proficiency in early grades, and teacher and administrator preparation. At present, the foundation has aligned its strategy with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's goal of reducing the state's college enrollment gap. The foundation's investments in K-16 programs are about building the educational "ramp" that leads to greater college readiness and success for all students.

To help build that ramp, Meadows is interested in early childhood education to prepare children from elementary school, reading and mathematics achievement in the middle grades, and teacher development. Projects and programs should be outcome-driven and have a research base of support, but the foundation usually funds direct service providers and does not usually fund research studies designed to inform and influence the K-12 policy debate. 

A key strategy in closing the college enrollment gap in Texas is to increase the enrollment rate among the state's African American and Latino students. According to a Meadows strategic plan, Latinos and African Americans combined are on track to represent the majority of Texas residents in the coming years. Improving elementary and secondary achievement, college readiness, and college enrollment rates for these demographics, as well as lowering dropout rates, are therefore a major concern for this funder.

The Meadows Foundation also values collaborative relationships among public and private partners. Nonprofit organizations or foundations that have working relationships with Texas public school districts or charter schools should get to know Meadows. For a more comprehensive and detailed look at the K-12 projects Meadows has supported, potential applicants can browse the foundation's grants database.

To incentivize student engagement in public service and "encourage high school and middle school students to develop a philanthropic spirit," the foundation also has a Charitable Schools Program. Since the program began in 1981, the foundation reports that it has given about $3 million "to more than 400 Texas schools whose students have planned and participated in community service programs."

Grant applications have no deadlines or specific dollar amount limits, and the foundation but priority is given to organizations who have existing funding streams for their projects that will be complemented by support from Meadows and continue after the Meadows funding period has ended. The foundation prefers full applications to be submitted in lieu of letters of inquiry, and "will screen in unsolicited grant opportunities as appropriate." The foundation also emphasizes that "grants staff is available by phone or email to respond to inquiries at any time." With that in mind, before downloading a grant application, you might want to reach out to Meadows staff and should thoroughly review its FAQ page. The people listed below form only a small part of the foundation's grants department, so it is also worth taking a look at Meadows' staff page.

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