RGK Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: This foundation is smaller than many other funders of education programs, but its grantmaking activities have covered all levels of education, with a stated preference for K-12. Grant recipients have included nonprofits, school systems, and more, with grants averaging $25,000 in size.

IP TAKE: Schools and nonprofits with smaller programs or research activities - particularly those working in RGK's home state of Texas - have found support with this funder.

PROFILE: Education has been a part of the RGK Foundation's focus since its founding in 1966 by Ronya and George Kozmetsky. This funder's giving has spanned all levels of education, with a "primary focus" on "programs that focus on formal K-12 education (particularly mathematics, science and reading), teacher development, literacy, and higher education." In addition to education, its other areas of interest have been Community, which covers a range of human services that include youth development programs, and Health/Medicine. The foundation has also supported special projects, and in recent years researched and supported strategies geared at "improving middle school children's health through physical activity." 

But after five decades on the philanthropy scene, the foundation announced that it would wind down operations and distribute assets equally between two new foundations, the Kozmetsky Family Foundation and the Reissa Foundation. During its life cycle, the foundation awarded over 3,500 grants totaling more than $133 million to U.S. nonprofits. The final capstone grant of the RGK Foundation was a $750,000 grant to the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. This grant went towards a fellowship to strengthen the next generation of philanthropic leaders. 

The Austin, Texas-based foundation has awarded more than $1 million annually in education grants in recent years. According to the foundation, grants are usually single-year and average about $25,000 in size. 

In the past, RGK's education grantmaking not only spanned all levels, from early childhood to college, but also a broad range of recipients. RGK has supported foundations, non-profit education service providers, charter management organizations, college access groups, and public school systems. Activities funded by RGK Foundation grants included literacy programs, teacher training and preparation activities, tutoring, computer-based instructional programs, and research and evaluation activities. There were no stated geographical restrictions to RGK's giving, but a large number of recent awards went to nonprofits and schools in the funder's home state of Texas. Past grants are listed by year and giving area on the grants page of its website. The foundation no longer accepts applications.

Going forward, both branches of the family – the Scotts and the Kozmetskys – have indicated that they will continue to be actively engaged in their separate foundations. According to a foundation announcement, the Kozmetsky Family Foundation is based in Texas and led by Sarah K. Miller, and the Reissa Foundation is based in California and led by Jordan Scott.

PEOPLE:

  • Beth Sexworth, Chief Investment Officer
  • Jami Hampton, Senior Program Officer

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