Toshiba America Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: Toshiba America Foundation is the U.S. philanthropic arm of this Japanese electronics and engineering giant. Its foundation focuses on K-12 STEM learning by supporting classroom teachers. Funding is assessed by grade level, with distinct streams, deadlines, and grant amounts for K-5 and 6-12 classes.

IP TAKE: This foundation likes direct impact. It doles out grants to STEM projects that teachers implement right in their classrooms, including funding for the materials needed to make those projects happen.

PROFILE: Toshiba America Foundation is solely dedicated to STEM learning in schools throughout the U.S., both public and private (so long as they are nonprofit). More specifically, the foundation supports this cause by directly funding projects designed by K-12 classroom teachers—meaning learning that happens during the traditional school day and school year (no afterschool programs or summer camps).

The foundation breaks down its support into two categories: Grants for Grades K-5 and Grants for Grades 6-12.

For Grades K-5, Toshiba America Foundation offers $1,000 grants to classroom teachers. These funds must go directly to materials necessary to implement "project-based learning in science and mathematics." Computer purchases are not eligible for funding.

What does Toshiba America Foundation consider innovative, you ask? In part, projects that students enjoy while they’re learning—the foundation asks teachers to share what they need "to make learning math and science fun for students.” The foundation also sees innovation in projects that grow out of students’ own curiosities, as well as those that capitalize on the expertise of “community partners.” For a stronger sense of how the foundation doles out its $1,000 material grants to K-5 teachers, review some of the recent K-5 projects it has funded.

    Toshiba America Foundation’s K-5 grant application is an online process with an annual deadline in early October.

    For the foundation’s program for Grants for Grades 6-12, the watchword is “engaging.” Toshiba America Foundation says it is looking for teachers who are “passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging” for their students. In pursuit of this engagement, the foundation will fund more than strictly the materials necessary to make the project happen, so for this student group, grants can come in either the “$5,000 or less” or “more than $5,000” variety. Applications in the former category are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year; applications for more than $5,000 are reviewed twice a year (February and August). As with its K-5 awards, the foundation features a number of recent grants for grades 6-12.

      In the spirit of the STEM learning the foundation supports, the Toshiba America Foundation looks for projects that not only involve project-based learning, but that also can result in measurable outcomes.  It has a rigorous definition of what this means in terms of building your project, from objectives, to methodologies, to alternative approaches you’ve rejected.

      A last point worth noting: if you want to consult with the foundation's staff before starting your application, the foundation helpfully states that "teachers are welcome to call the Toshiba America Foundation at (212) 596-0620 to discuss their project ideas" before submitting a proposal.

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