Motorola Solutions Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Motorola Solutions Foundation, the philanthropic branch of Motorola Solutions, provides grants in the areas of public safety, first responders, disaster relief and education, with a heavy emphasis on STEM-related disciplines. Since 2007, the foundation has given more than $40 million in education grants at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary levels.

IP TAKE: If you want to stimulate young people's interest in pursuing STEM studies and are concerned with reaching out to populations underrepresented in the STEM fields, this funder may have a solution. Keep in mind that Motorola prioritizes projects in areas where it has a corporate presence.

PROFILE: Most corporate foundations pursue grantmaking strategies aligned with their corporate goals. In the case of the Motorola Solutions Foundation, this means a program of philanthropy that emphasizes STEM education. As the philanthropic arm of Motorola Solutions, the foundation works to benefit the communities in which the company operates.

Since 2007, Motorola Solutions Foundation has provided more than $40 million in STEM education grants. Recipients have spanned more than 30 countries and included institutions of higher education, museums, nonprofits and K-12 school systems. The foundation is especially interested in programs that encourage young women and other underrepresented groups to pursue studies in math, science and engineering.

In K-12 education, the foundation's grants previously fell into two categories: grants awarded to national programs and Local Impact grants awarded to state and local institutions. It is not clear based on information on the foundation’s web site whether those categories remain in place.

That said, the foundation’s education priorities are very clear. The foundation seeks to fund programs that:

  • Reach out to underrepresented populations, such as women and people of color
  • Are “hands-on STEM activities with a special focus on engineering or information technology (IT) concepts such as coding, programming or robotics” and/or that “blend concepts of public safety with STEM concepts and activities”
  • Offer “vocational skills and certifications in engineering or IT”
  • “Advance students through the education pipeline to more advanced STEM education or careers”
  • “Help teachers improve their teaching of STEM subjects”
  • Foster collaboration “with other STEM education providers & institutions”
  • “Provide Motorola Solutions employees opportunities to volunteer.”

Motorola has previously funded work on projects such as pairing teenage STEM students with university undergraduate mentors, a summer program for First Nation K-12 students, teacher training to work with students on areas like robotics and the scientific method, and outreach efforts designed to increase diversity in STEM by stimulating interest in the subjects among middle and high school students, especially girls and ethnic minority students.  

While itemized grant dollar amounts are not available on the foundation’s website, Motorola states that awards range from $10,000 to $50,000 in size and average about $30,000. A complete listing of the previous year’s grant recipients can be found on the right-hand side of the foundation’s home page.

Applying for funding through Motorola is an open but competitive process. International organizations are also eligible to apply.

New grant guidelines and application deadlines are released for each funding year, and applications must be submitted via the foundation’s online application process. Organizations seeking funding should check Motorola's website for information on current guidelines and application deadlines. Note again that Motorola prefers to fund projects in areas where it has a presence. For the U.S., that means the cities and surrounding regions of Chicago, Illinois; Plantation, Florida; Columbia, Maryland; Westminster, Colorado; Lawrenceville, Georgia; San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah, Farmer Branch and Houston, Texas; New York City, and Tempe, Arizona.

Questions regarding eligibility can be answered via the foundation’s application or by emailing foundation@motorolasolutions.com.

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