OVERVIEW: The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation (or the PCLB Foundation as it prefers to be known) has established itself as an important regional charter funder, focusing its support mainly on New York and Connecticut. The foundation awards programmatic and general operating support to some of the region's most successful charter schools, providing financial support to help them expand. It also gives grants for general operations, advocacy, and educator and principal training.
IP TAKE: This foundation's education program is all about providing a high-quality education to all students, and it supports that goal by investing heavily in the growth of the charter sector. It doesn't accept unsolicited proposals, but does encourage reaching out to program staff.
PROFILE: The PCLB Foundation is financed by Peter Buck, a co-founder of the Subway restaurant chain. Its stated goal is, "Giving motivated people the tools they need to help themselves," and the foundation is a relatively heavy charter school funder. That's certainly welcome news for charter organizations in New York and Connecticut, the two-state geographic focus area of the foundation. Not to mention, the foundation's three-pronged approach is straightforward and easy to navigate, making the foundation one of the most conducive for charter fundraisers.
The first strategy is to support the expansion and maintenance of high-quality charter schools in New York and Connecticut. "Growth" is the underlying buzzword, as the foundation tends to support expanding networks. For instance, the PCLB Foundation has been a big supporter of the Achievement First charter network, which began in New Haven, Connecticut. Since its founding, Achievement First has grown to include 29 schools in five cities, and has shown consistent academic achievement above state averages.
But grants aren't exclusively for expansion projects. In recent years, the foundation has regularly awarded six-figure general operations grants for a large number of charters. Two other areas that have received foundation grants have been in advocacy and educator/principal training. Teach for America's regional operations receive foundation funding, while advocacy grantees have included local organizations like ConnCAN and national groups such as Education Reform Now.
If your nonprofit offers out-of-school K-12 STEM programming, PCLB’s “STEM & Scouts” program is also certainly worth exploring. Through this funding stream, the foundation supports “out-of-school time (OST) STEM programs” that “expose students to STEM subjects in a framework emphasizing fun in learning, creativity, critical thinking, and teamwork” in order to reinforce and expand their in-class learning. As with its education program awardees, many STEM ed organizations receiving support from PCLB have received funding for general operations, though a number of grants in this area have also been program-specific.
Unfortunately, PCLB doesn't accept unsolicited proposals, but there is good news for fundraisers. It prefers that nonprofits reach out to program staff (be sure to review each program so that you contact the right program officer), and sometimes these discussions turn into site visits (an in-person meeting at some point in process is required for first-time grantseekers). Also, the foundation does award some project grants, but most are for general operating support.
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