The Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation promotes economic literacy throughout the United States.

IP TAKE: This foundation is steeped in economic literacy, particularly (though not exclusively) through education, with a stated focus on engaging the K-12 student population. This includes direct economics curricula, but also on integrating economics education into other subject areas. The foundation's ultimate aim is to make the world “a better place to live,” so if your K-12 education program really digs into economic literacy framed as social good, there could be an opportunity for you here.

PROFILE: The Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation was established in 1947 by its namesake, the founder and president of Peter Paul Inc., maker of Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars. The foundation’s mission is to address “the issue of economic illiteracy,” but its more substantive throughline is evident in its description of why Kazanjian established the foundation in the first place:

For 30 years, he met and solved the problems of an ever-growing business. He thought that most of the mistakes made by society were the result not of malice, but rather, of ignorance. He believed that social and political difficulties could be traced, in large part, to economic illiteracy. He firmly believed that if more people understood basic economics the world would be a better place in which to live. Accordingly, he established the Foundation in the true spirit of unselfish service. In his own words, he wished to “help bring a greater happiness and prosperity to all, through a better understanding of economics.”

To that end, The Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation awards grants to nonprofits that delve deeply into economic literacy as a means of social uplift. The foundation supports K-12 education programs that focus on direct economic literacy services, as well as curriculum development; for the latter, they have a keen interest in keeping students in school long enough and meaningfully enough to become active participants in the economic system.

Grants are given only to 501(c)(3)s, so this isn't a funder that gives to small school-based projects, but rather organizations that create larger platforms for K-12 curriculum and promotion of economic education. (Its other big interest is to thrust economic literacy into larger and louder public conversations.)

The foundation considers its funding to be modest, with an average grant of $22,000 for a one-year award. But it gives grants as large as $150,000 (and as small as $3,500) and will also give to multi-year projects if the fit is right.

Recent K-12 education-related grantees include:

The Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation has an open application process with two deadlines each year, February and September.

PEOPLE:

Dr. Michael A. MacDowell, Managing Director