Northrop Grumman: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Northrop Grumman, the global aerospace and defense technology company, makes substantial philanthropic contributions directly through its corporate entity, as well as by way of its Northrop Grumman Foundation. STEM education is at the very top of its list, but the company also makes commitments to the environment, health and human services, and veterans and active military.

IP TAKE: Northrop Grumman is unique in that in addition to its primary focus on STEM, it places parallel emphasis on national K-12 education programs (though the Northrop Grumman Foundation) and local, community-driven K-12 education programs (through its Corporate Citizenship program).

PROFILE: Northrop Grumman, the U.S.-based global aerospace and defense technology company, makes STEM education its primary philanthropic commitment, including in the K-12 realm. It does this through national and local programs, but the funding comes from different places, with slightly different shading when it comes to the process.

K-12 education support for national programs flows through the corporation’s Northrop Grumman Foundation. STEM education is the name of the game here. Northrop Grumman Foundation is looking for diverse and sustainable STEM education programs that enhance the student experience, train teachers to excel at STEM education, or give teachers the tools they need for their classrooms.

The Northrop Grumman Foundation’s STEM education pot is divided between K-12 education and higher education. In recent years, the foundation has given around $10 million annually in education grants. It does not report the breakdown between K-12 and higher education.  

When it comes to national K-12 STEM education partnerships, Northrop Grumman Foundation likes putting its stamp on things. For example, it has been the presenting sponsor for the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program, a “high school cybersecurity defense competition designed to excite, educate and motivate the next generation of cyber-defenders.” It was also the presenting sponsor of a VEX Robotics Competition, in which teams of elementary and middle school students design and build a robot for a game-based engineering challenge. Both of these programs have had many years of support from the foundation.

Northrop Grumman Foundation also supports SciGirls, a PBS television program and digital platform where girls go on STEM-related adventures. Other recent national K-12 STEM education programs supported by the foundation have included the MATHCOUNTS Foundation, Science Buddies, Teach for America, and Wolftrap Foundation.

An interesting and relatively new initiative is Northrop Grumman Foundation's Teachers Academy, which launched in 2015 in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), providing 25 science teachers for students grades 5-8 with "a yearlong immersion in a host of science-, technology-, and engineering-related activities and professional learning opportunities".

If you’re a 501(c)(3), and you think you’re a good match for Northrop Grumman Foundation, send an email to in order to request a time to discuss your program. Include “a brief summary of both your organization and the project that would be supported.” Here’s the scope of the application, should you make it to the application phase.

Moving on to the local level: Here again, the K-12 education commitment is STEM-focused. But this time the money flows from the corporate side of things, through Northrop Grumman’s Corporate Contributions Program.

The biggest difference when you’re looking for K-12 STEM funding on a local level is that education is not the company’s sole focus in this realm. The Corporate Contributions Program also supports veterans and active military, health and human services, and the environment—again, all on a community level. There are no geographic restrictions, so long as you’re located in the U.S.

That said, all community giving is not created equal, which is good news since you’re in the market for education funding. That’s because Carleen Beste, Vice President of Global Corporate Responsibility for Northrop Grumman, directly shared with IP that Northrop Grumman dedicates 50 percent of its corporate giving to education.

In its K-12 STEM education support at the local level, Northrop is looking for “unique programming to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technicians.” And just like its national giving, support in this realm includes supporting STEM classroom teachers with both training and with tools.

In an interview with WashingtonExec, Beste highlighted the corporation’s contribution of $1 million to George Mason University’s Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement program, which focuses on improving science teaching, student learning, and professional development of elementary and secondary teachers at high-need schools in Virginia. 

It's also worth noting that a program for teacher classroom stipends, Northrop Grumman's Engineers Week STEM Grants program, recently distributed $50,000 to 167 classrooms throughout the country in $300 chunks to teachers in support of their STEM classroom projects at the elementary, middle, and high school level. 

More information about the corporation's giving can be seen in its annual Corporate Responsibility reports.

A special note for charter schools: Northrop Grumman will only consider funding those that practice open enrollment and those that are “held to the same standard as other public schools.”

The application process for local K-12 STEM education grants through the Northrop Grumman Contributions Program takes place online, with deadlines twice annually (April and August).


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