Schusterman Family Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Oklahoma-based Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation aims for national impact in strengthening Jewish communities, the state of Israel, and K-12 education across the United States. Schusterman supports organizations that strive for national impact in K-12 education, with a particular emphasis on nonprofits that support charter schools. It also funds programs that improve quality of life in its home base of Tulsa.

IP TAKE: This funder's grantmaking is by invitation only, but the foundation is always interested in identifying potential future partners, including pilot projects and scaleable initiatives.

PROFILE: Despite rising high school graduation rates across the country, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation sees much work to be done in K-12 education in the United States. High dropout rates, low college completion rates, and the need for more students trained in the STEM fields are among the targets identified by this funder, which seeks "to dramatically increase the number of students, especially from low-income families, who graduate high school prepared for college and the workplace."

The Schusterman Family Foundation is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was founded in 1987 by Charles and Lynn Schusterman. Initially, the foundation focused its efforts on advocacy for Jewish communities, the state of Israel, and its hometown of Tulsa. While it continues to support these areas, the foundation has expanded its efforts to include improving public education at home and across the country.

A belief in the need for new approaches to education and a focus on education reform drive Schusterman's K-12 grantmaking at the national level. Programs directed to improve teacher preparation, provide professional development, improve student achievement (especially in meeting Common Core standards), policy and advocacy work, identifying scalable models, promoting professional leadership, and supporting at-risk populations in reaching and graduating from college. 

Schusterman's advocacy of new approaches to education has made it a strong supporter of the charter school movement. The foundation funds national charter networks and organizations dedicated to the movement's growth. Major recipients of grant funding have included the KIPP charter network and the Charter School Growth Fund. 

Schusterman's K-12 funding is not limited to pro-charter school organizations, however. It also has supported the New Schools Venture Fund, which supports education "entrepreneurs" across the country, as well as the education reform group Stand for Children. Schusterman has also been a strong supporter of Teach for America, and has joined other education funders in supporting the 100K in 10 initiative, a Carnegie Corporation-led effort to train 100,000 math and science teachers over a 10-year period. 

The common thread in Schusterman's K-12 funding is to direct its grantmaking toward nonprofits whose work has the potential to make a national impact in public education. Except for organizations based in Tulsa, this is not the funder for organizations whose work aims for a local or regional impact.

IP has reported in the past that Schusterman does not accept unsolicited letters of inquiry or proposals, and there is little if any information on its website about applying for a grant with Schusterman. However, because it wants to identify potential future partners, the foundation keeps its door open.

Organizations that want to become acquainted with this funder and thus be considered for future funding opportunities should explore the grantmaking and partners sections of Schusterman's website, and it may also be worth contacting the foundation directly.

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