Target Corporation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Target Corporation, that national retail chain with the ubiquitous red bullseye, continues to deepen its commitment to philanthropy. Its K-12 giving, which is national and vast, flows through the corporation itself and is now primarily focused on wellness and healthy living, particularly in low-income communities. In contrast, the Target Foundation is specifically committed to social services and the arts in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis, the corporation’s home base.

IP TAKE: Target gives to K-12 education in small chunks, but it gives many, many small chunks, which makes the retailer a fairly big philanthropic player in this realm. Buy your coffee, your school supplies, your desk itself, and a cozy sweater, then read on about how Target can give back to your classroom.

PROFILE: Target Corporation seemingly sells everything, and has stores everywhere. Its K-12 support has traditionally covered a lot of ground, too. In 2010, Target announced a plan to donate $1 billion to education by the end of its 2015 fiscal year. Target distributed this money in increments of no more than $2,000 to support early childhood reading; arts, culture, and design in schools; and field trip grants. With that billion-dollar mark recently achieved, however, this incarnation of Target's K-12 funding has come to a close.

With wellness as "a signature emphasis of [Target's] corporate social responsibility strategy," the corporation has now shifted gears in its support of K-12 youth. Within this realm, Target states that it is funding programs that provide "access, affordability, and inspiration"—the very ways the company likes to describe its stores. It will be doing this through Youth Programming Wellness Grants focusing on two areas: Healthy Eating and Active Living. More specifically, Target is seeking programs focused on "breaking down the barriers" to "access, affordability, and inspiration," which it sees as necessary to support a healthy lifestyle. 

Fear not, K-12 providers: Target will still be "support[ing] education, but through a wellness lens," according to Laysha Ward, the company's chief corporate social responsibility officer. Additionaly, Ward has stated, this will include a "focus on youth, both in school and out, and leverage current programs like our Meals for Minds in-school food pantry program and Target Field Trips, along with new solutions." K-12 grantseekers already familiar with Target's Field Trips grants may remember that the company has famously awarded grants of up to $700 to support field trips for "K-12 schools nationwide."

Target's first Request for Information and Innovation proposals is well worth reviewing, and includes a focus on supporting programs that are "research-based, with proven or promising outcomes in driving measurable, sustained changes in behavior and attitudes," especially those that serve low-income communities. That said, this grant focus is new for Target, so organizations seeking funding will need to check back to get a clearer sense of Target's funding priorities and refine their applications accordingly. Keep in mind, however, that Target is encouraging its applicants to "think big" and present "programs that address healthy eating and active living in innovative ways, both new and existing." Grants are generally expected to be single-year and fall in the $10,000 to $1 million range.

One final note: This entry refers to funding from the Target Corporation, not the Target Foundation, a separate entity that specifically serves the Twin Cities, Minnesota area, which is the corporation’s headquarters. The Target Foundation supports social services and arts and culture grants in Minneapolis and St. Paul.


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