Travelers Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Travelers Foundation's main focus is education, with grants going to support improved middle school and high school achievement, increased postsecondary success for underserved students, and college readiness programs. Those goals probably sound right in line for most K-12 fundraisers, but there's a catch. Travelers mainly funds non-profit organizations in its headquarters of Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota, though a few grants are awarded each year to organizations outside these two cities for Travelers employee initiatives.

IP TAKE: In Hartford and St. Paul, Travelers functions almost like a community foundation, with longtime partners in those areas working on specific goals. First-time grantseekers shouldn't be discouraged from exploring their options, but with such long-term partnerships already in place, it might be more challenging to get your foot in the door.

PROFILE: There are two programs at the Travelers Foundation K-12 that grantseekers should be interested in: the education program for nonprofits in St. Paul and Hartford, and the arts education program. Traditionally, Travelers has donated a substantial portion of its earnings to nonprofits, which is more good news for education fundraisers; by the foundation's own accounting, it has given more than $50 million in support of education at various levels since 2009.

The school districts in St. Paul and Hartford are consistently top grantees for Travelers, and the foundation also has some very specific goals that it has supported for a number of years, particularly in improving middle school and high school achievement, and college and career readiness. 

The foundation's education program also has a few quirks. Grants support organizations that benefit students in grades 5 through 12, though Travelers does make exceptions from time to time (outside of K-12, it also supports "students in transition to post-secondary education, and in the post-secondary learning environment."). More specifically, Travelers has four priority education areas for its funding: Middle & High School Academic Achievement, College Preparation & Degree Attainment, Education Equity, and Career Awareness & Readiness (the last of these is specifically intended to make students aware of and get them interested "in careers in insurance and financial services.").

While it falls a little outside the K-12 realm, grantseekers should also be aware of Travelers EDGE (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment), the foundation's "signature program" that works with "colleges, universities and community-based programs to increase the pipeline of underrepresented students who complete bachelor's degrees and are prepared for a career at Travelers or within the Insurance and Financial Services industry." The foundation's partners in this initiative can be found here.

Grants from the arts education program go to groups that inspire creativity in learning. More specifically for K-12 fundraisers, there are two important dimensions: Arts Education, which supports "organizations that incorporate the use of the arts in learning and stimulate creativity, while supporting improved academic achievement in local public schools," and Arts & Diversity, which "funds a wide range of organizations to promote "multi-cultural understanding," as well as "develop and present cultural and artistic traditions and/or provide access to various forms of art to low-income and diverse audiences."

 Funding in the arts program is a little different from the education program because there is no grade-level requirement and a wider range of organizations are eligible, so there may be more flexibility in terms of your ability to earn funding through this funding stream.

To start the application process, nonprofits and schools are encouraged to fill out an online pre-application, though before doing so it would be worth reviewing the organization's past giving (available by year under the Resources section on the right-hand side of any of the foundation's program pages). Also keep in mind the foundation's preference that organizations' "governing bodies include representatives from within the community and projects that directly serve low-income communities" and for "collaborative efforts and initiatives that fit more than one of the priority funding areas."

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