State Farm: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: State Farm broadly supports education, safety, and community betterment. There is also a legally separate entity, the State Farm Companies Foundation, that offers education support through higher education scholarships, a matching gift program for small donations from State Farm employees, and a "Good Neighbor" matching grant that contributes $500 to any organization where a current or retired State Farm employee volunteers 40 hours or more per year.

IP TAKE: The corporate motto, "Like a good neighbor State Farm is there," serves the company’s philanthropic work, too. State Farm supports K-12 education directly through corporate partnerships by giving big checks to education organizations, emphasizing some stalwarts, but also making some less expected choices by supporting student-driven initiatives. Its focus is on communities where it has a corporate presence, and organizations seeking lower-level funding will best benefit if they can incorporate financial or volunteer support from State Farm employees.

PROFILE: The insurance behemoth State Farm supports education through is a series of philanthropic sub-programs - both those that the company funds directly, and vis-à-vis a legally separate entity, the State Farm Companies Foundation.

For purposes of support of K-12 education, grants from the State Farm corporate support flows through two programs: Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants and State Farm Youth Advisory Board Service Learning Grants.

The Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants fund K-12 public schools throughout the United States and Canada. The foundation seeks to achieve student potential by funding teacher development, service learning, and education reform/systemic improvement. “Impact” is a key word in this pursuit. The Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants look for projects that impact classrooms, students and communities—ideally all three at once. This is made clear when you click on the projects they currently support. Though they are broken out into those three “categories,” virtually all of the organizations they support make all three lists. These organizations include Teach For America, Junior Achievement, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Grant applications are for projects of $5,000 or more, with deadlines and requirements posted on State Farm's company grants page.

There’s more fluidity—and the potential for out-of-the-box thinking—with the company's Youth Advisory Board (YAB) Serving-Learning Grants. But the linchpin here is that a project must be student-driven. All projects the company grants in this realm are education-based, but they are also mindfully directed into the topic areas of arts and culture, the environment, community safety, health and wellness, financial literacy, and access to college education/closing the achievement gap.

The foundation is looking for big ideas, with big checks to support them. Grants range from $25,000 to $100,000, with the foundation potentially giving up to $5 million through this program any given year. 

That’s placing a lot of grant money and responsibility in the hands of young idea generators, who also help to decide where those grants are going. The Youth Advisory Board, a group of students ages 17 to 20, lead the way in setting the agenda and dispersing the funds.

But fear not, grown-ups are still in the picture. Though these grants encourage peer-to-peer learning and leadership, the projects must flow through K-12 public schools or 501(c)(3) organizations.  Private schools may be eligible if they partner with a public school that applies for support, and universities whose project will largely benefit K-12 students may also apply. Proposals are expected to have a "deep" rather than a "wide" impact, so applications that focus on a target community or communities stand a better chance of earning funding than those with a more "shallow" impact at the multi-state or regional level.

Recently funded initiatives can be reviewed both geographically and by giving area on the foundation's grants page, while older initiatives can be reviewed in its archives section.

    Applications for Youth Advisory Board Serving-Learning Grants are due in early spring, and applications for multiple grants may be submitted simultaneously (though this is discouraged).

    On a smaller but still significant scale, the separate State Farm Companies Foundation, founded in 1963, offers education support through higher education scholarships, a matching gift program for small donations from State Farm employees, and a "Good Neighbor" matching grant that contributes $500 to any organization where a current or retired State Farm employee volunteers 40 hours or more per year.

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