The PIMCO Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The PIMCO Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the investment management firm, gives with a mission “to empower people globally to reach their full potential.” In the K-12 education space, this work focuses on college readiness.

IP TAKE: The PIMCO Foundation’s K-12 commitment is solely dedicated to creating pathways to (and ultimately through) college—particularly four-year college—and it refreshingly sees the myriad ways that low-income, high-need students can and should be supported. The foundation will fund relevant programs anywhere in the country, but their recent giving history shows a bent for Southern California and the New York City area.

PROFILE: The PIMCO Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company), an investment management firm that is itself a subsidiary of Allianz. On one level, that’s neither here nor there, because the foundation supports a wide swath of needs unrelated to the company’s for-profit work. But once you get into the application, you’ll see how the parent company's business relates; the pre-emptive financial reporting for this grant application is as rigorous as these things come (more on that below).

For now, here’s the throughline: The mission of The PIMCO Foundation is “to empower people globally to reach their full potential.” On the surface, that sounds fairly generic but in the K-12 education funding space, it actually gives quite a bit of information. Key in on the words “empower” and “potential.”

For K-12 education giving, the foundation specifically supports what it calls “college access,” adding: “We specifically seek to invest in innovative organizations that serve low-income, high-risk, first generation college students to and through college.” In other words, the foundation wants to set the table for underserved populations to reach their educational “potential.” 

As for their mission word “empower,” its meaningfulness is embedded in the three ways the foundation seeks a program to achieve its college access work—and tapping into more than one of these areas is even better:

  • “Academic, social, and emotional support, helping high school students prepare for and access a four year university”
  • “A continuum of care for college-going students, supporting them to and through college”
  • “Tools to help students and their caregivers financially prepare for postsecondary education.”

As a K-12 education programmer, there’s likely the most meaning in The PIMCO Foundation’s interest in providing funds to those who provide “academic” support. For instance, if your academic program is one you typically frame as dedicated to ensuring working proficiencies, there’s an opportunity here instead to think about how core academic proficiencies translate to college readiness.

It’s also worth noting the foundation’s use of the term “four year university.” The PIMCO Foundation is not just looking to get low-income, high-risk students to any table, but rather a table best situated for their life “potential.”

Education grants from The PIMCO Foundation range from $25,000 to $100,000. They are typically limited to one-year support (though the foundation will entertain multi-year requests to a limited number of “returning” grantees).

Recent grantees in the college access space include Blue Engine (Brooklyn, NY); Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA); New Heights Youth (New York, NY); and The Wooden Floor (Santa Ana, CA).

You’d be correct to note that all four of these examples are organizations centered in either Southern California or New York City. Although The PIMCO Foundation explicitly states that there are “no geographic restrictions” for its Education giving, unquestionably these two regions are favored. That is likely because Southern California (specifically Orange County) and New York City are the two hubs on its for-profit side, and are the only two regions in which the foundation gives for one of its other granting categories (Critical Community Needs) as well as when it comes to Event Sponsorships. (For the record, the foundation also supports a very healthy employee matching gifts program, as well as an infrastructure for employee volunteers.)

Getting back to that for-profit side of PIMCO: This is a rigorous application, particularly with respect to the management of your organization’s money.  The foundation requires extensive discussion of your organization’s financials, and it goes far beyond the baseline requirement to be a 501(c)(3). There’s analysis of your program-to-administration overall operating budget ratios, your cash-on-hand vs. current liabilities ratios, and a hard look at how diversified your income is (private donors, foundation grants, government support, service contracts, and more).

The good news is that The PIMCO Foundation’s application is an open one. Requests for Education funding are due at the end of May.


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