Stranahan Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Stranahan Foundation is a family foundation based in Toledo, OH that gives grants for education, arts and culture, the environment, and health and human services.

IP TAKE: The Stranahan Foundation funds K-12 education efforts both in Toledo, OH (where the foundation is based) and beyond. If your K-12 education program overlaps with one of its other areas of focus, even better.

PROFILE: The Stranahan Foundation was established in 1944 in Toledo, OH by the founders of the Champion Spark Plug Company. Its mission today is “to assist individuals and groups in their efforts to become more self-sufficient and contribute to the improvement of society and the environment” in both Toledo and throughout the United States. 

In pursuit of this improvement, the Stranahan Foundation focuses on five areas of giving: Education, Arts & Culture, Ecological Well-Being, Physical & Mental Health, and Human Services. It’s worth keeping these other areas in mind, because recent grants make it clear that this foundation likes it when education pursuits mesh with one of these other avenues of giving (see below).

The foundation puts forth a well-articulated set of Guiding Principles. In the context of K-12 education, the most resonant aspects include the foundation’s beliefs:

  • That “fundamental values are best instilled at a young age by caring families, supportive schools and a society which feels a strong sense of responsibility for educating and nurturing their young to be knowledgeable, motivated and prepared to take part in the preservation and betterment of the societies in which they will take part.”
  • “That self-sufficient people can best help themselves and others.”
  • “In the courage to embrace change, and as necessary, to take the initiative to bring about positive change.”

For the Stranahan Foundation, these guiding principles lend themselves to flexible use of grant money. For your K-12 education program (which must be a 501(c)(3)), the foundation is willing to fund program start-ups, program operating costs, program expansion, and organization capital. It’s also open to hearing what other funding you might need.

The Stranahan Foundation is also open to the types of K-12 education programming it supports. Its giving history shows that the foundation directly funds schools (with a particular affinity for charter schools and support of afterschool/summer programming), arts education programs (both in-school and after school), hands-on environmental education programs, and teacher development.

Despite its flexibility in the types of grants it gives, the foundation is still rigorous in its expectation that you have a good fiscal and operational game plan. This includes laying out other sources of funding, as well as parlaying the strengths of your community’s resources and partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations.

If you’re an organization based in the Toledo, OH area, you’re now ready to fire off your LOI. If you’re anywhere else in the U.S., you need to be invited to send that LOI. So play the game of getting on the foundation’s radar, and play it well; know also that the foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees (listed below). Most are third- and fourth-generation family of the founding brothers, with a few non-family members sprinkled in. The foundation notes that many of the trustees/family members volunteer with and serve on committees for the grant-winning programs; if you can engage these individuals to take part in your K-12 education program, that’s a good way in.

Some of the K-12 education organizations and programs that received Stranahan Foundation funding in 2013 include:

  • $50,000 to IS183 (Stockbridge, MA) for its arts education programming;
  • $42,699 to Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter, NH) for tuition assistance to send its secondary school teachers to a professional conference;
  • $40,000 to Community MusicWorks (Providence, RI) for its Daily Orchestra Program for students ages 6 – 8;
  • $36,000 to the New Mexico School for the Arts (Santa Fe, NM) to enhance its Media Arts program;
  • $25,000 to the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education (Monticello, UT) for its Bioregional Outdoor Education Project to train elementary and middle school teachers;
  • $25,000 to the Polly Fox Academy (Toledo, OH), in support of the academic curriculum, health services, and career guidance for this student population of 7th – 12th grade pregnant and parenting students;
  • $25,000 to the National Dance Institute of New Mexico (Santa Fe, NM) for its In-School dance program for 3rd – 5th graders;
  • $25,000 to the Mary C. Wheeler School (Providence, RI) for tuition-free after school, weekend, and summer programming, as well as year-round tutoring, for 7th and 8th grade students;
  • $20,000 to the Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH) for its school-age afterschool program;
  • $20,000 to the Green Farms Academy (Green Farms, CT) for tuition-free summer and weekend programming for low-income K-8th grade students;
  • $2,500 to Philanthropy Ohio (Columbus, OH) for its Education Initiative addressing the policy and advocacy issues of Ohio education.

For additional insight into Stranahan Foundation K-12 giving, in 2012 the foundation gave $55,000 to Veggie U (Milan, OH); $35,000 to the First Tee of Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM); and $25,000 to the Belmont Day School (Belmont, MA).


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