The Coca-Cola Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Coca-Cola gives worldwide through support from the company, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and a number of local and regional foundations around the globe. Some of that money goes for K-12 education in the United States and other countries. 

IP TAKE: When seeking youth education funding from this ubiquitous soda maker, keep in mind that grants at the community level and serving at-risk youth are frequently areas of focus.

PROFILE: The Coca-Cola corporation has previously stated that its philanthropic goal is "to give back at least 1 percent of [its] operating income annually to improve the living standards of people around the world." It fulfills this commitment through company donations and the Coca-Cola Foundation, established in 1984. In a recent year, that one percent give-back totaled $143 million, of which $98 million was funneled through the foundation. 

While the foundation notes that it has always "supported learning inside and outside the classroom," its is also making efforts at "addressing critical community challenges and opportunities," which the foundation describes as "an evolving process." Since 2007, the foundation's community-related giving has included "global water stewardship programs, fitness and nutrition efforts and community recycling programs." Additionally, the foundation's goals are now also aligned with its "Sustainability platform and include women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship." 

The Coca-Cola Foundation has three priority areas of giving: Women, Water, and Well-Being. Grants in K-12 education fall under Well-Being, an area that specifically encompasses "active healthy living, education, and youth development." The company also operates the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, a separate entity that awards college scholarships, as well as nearly 20 regional and local foundations around the world. Many of these local foundations are either explicitly youth- or education-focused, or include support for disadvantaged youth as a component of their work - particularly those in Swaziland, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Thailand, and Turkey. 

Both abroad and in the U.S., Coca-Cola's K-12 giving has been diverse in recent years. Many (though by no means all) grants included a focus on serving at-risk youth. In addition, much of Coca-Cola's education giving has incorporated additional areas such as community support, environmental stewardship, and physical activity. In a recent year, grants have supported efforts in the U.S. and internationally in programs such as sports and education for underserved urban youth, the incorporation of "nutrition-based education" through grassroots organizations and in school curricula, environmental education, outdoor education "for medically fragile children," museum exhibitions, "skills training and mentoring," college readiness, drop-out prevention efforts, and a "teen education, conservation and employment initiative."

Coca-Cola has also supported programs that fall outside of the obvious K-12 education box were still directed at issues such as youth development, education, health and wellness, and community betterment. A complete list of recent grantees with brief descriptions and award amounts can be viewed via the link at the bottom of the foundation's home page

The Coca-Cola Foundation has an open grant application process with no dollar limit, and accepts funding requests year-round through its online application portal. For more information, grantseekers can review the foundation's Guidelines and Application and learn more about its priorities (through its Global Pillars page) as well as areas the foundation usually does not support ("U.S. based local schools" being a key example).