Starr Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Starr Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States, with assets of more than $1 billion, and it has focused on education since its founding in 1955. Starr doesn't deal many education grants, however. Instead, it is a major scholarship funder at colleges and secondary schools across the country. 

IP TAKE: Starr doesn't accept unsolicited proposals or materials. But in addition to its scholarships, organizations serving a K-12 constituency may qualify for support through the foundation's Culture or Human Services funding streams. 

PROFILE: The Starr Foundation was founded by insurance entrepreneur Cornelius Vander Starr, who left his estate to the foundation after his passing in 1968. In addition to education, the foundation supports efforts in the areas of "medicine and healthcare, human needs, public policy, culture and the environment."

 More than 100 secondary schools and colleges in the United States offer the Starr Foundation-endowed scholarships. The foundation also "funds organizations that provide need-based financial aid to students seeking to attend secondary and post-secondary schools" as well as "a number of exchange programs" to send U.S. students abroad and to bring international students here. In many ways, this was Cornelius Vander Starr’s vision when he started the fund in 1955, as he wanted to support students directly. 

Today, the foundation continues to provide maintenance funding for existing funds, and new schools are invited by program staff to apply for endowed funds. But in terms of Starr's education program, these two programs are the only real focus.

Two other Starr programs, though, can have a broader impact on K-12 funding. The Culture and the Arts program can make grants to arts education nonprofits, and the Human Services program can include education projects such as literacy groups and children's health. 

Starr is no longer accepting unsolicited proposals - or any unsolicited materials, for that matter - which makes the process much more challenging for those seeking funding.