U.S. Bancorp Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The U.S. Bancorp Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the financial services company, and provides grants in the areas of education, workforce development, economic development, affordable housing, and arts and culture in the areas where its bank has a presence. The U.S Bancorp Foundation is a significant grantor of K-12 education programs—including for general operating costs—viewing this support as part of a larger context of community development and uplift. 

IP TAKE: U.S. Bancorp has an open grant application process, but only for K-12 education programs in the 25 states where its corporate side offers banking services.

PROFILE: The U.S. Bancorp Foundation is the philanthropic arm of U.S. Bancorp, the financial services company based in Minneapolis. A word here about corporate nomenclature: The company U.S. Bancorp is often referred to as U.S. Bank, which is the signage their bank storefronts (and commercial website) use. By extension, U.S. Bancorp Foundation is often referred to as U.S. Bank Foundation—on its own website, the two names are used somewhat interchangeably. But be aware that formally speaking (including by IRS designation), the foundation we’re about to discuss is the U.S. Bancorp Foundation.

No matter what you call it, this foundation is committed to granting for K-12 education. In 2013, the foundation gave more then $23.4 million, and 27 percent of that went to education, a pot that K-12 education shares with post-secondary giving (to colleges and universities), which also gets its due. But the foundation’s education focus supports K-12 education, too. The foundation’s education directives are to help low-income and at-risk students succeed in school and prepare for college; financial literacy; and mentoring. Arts education is also a focus of the foundation, though organizationally speaking, this falls under the foundation’s “Cultural and Artistic Enrichment” giving sector.

U.S. Bancorp Foundation’s education directive is a key aspect of the foundation’s larger granting mandate to support uplift and development for communities in need within the 25 states where it operates: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Unlike many of its corporate granting peers who give to K-12 education, U.S. Bancorp Foundation earmarks grants for general operating support as well as program support (and capital projects too, under stricter circumstances).

U.S. Bancorp Foundation is also refreshingly open to the types of K-12 education programs and organizations it supports. Recent giving history (see below) shows a wide spectrum: Public school systems in major cities and smaller towns, individual public schools, charter schools and schools systems, private schools, parochial schools, community groups, local/regional chapters of national organizations, afterschool programs, arts education programs, children's museums and discovery centers, physical education, literacy initiatives, school-based job training organizations, college preparatory groups, and more.

Across all focus areas of giving, the foundation’s watchwords are “innovative” and “effectiveness.” It doesn’t further define either adjective, but they are certainly descriptors to be mindful of when you approach U.S. Bancorp Foundation for a grant.

Applying for those grants is a state-by-state endeavor, and for larger states, by region within those states. Each state/region has its own grant managers, contact information, and deadlines. Applications for each state/region are also online.

A sliver of K-12 education grants dispensed by U.S. Bancorp Foundation in a recent year include:

  • $80,000 to the Portland Schools Foundation (Portland, OR);
  • $25,000 to Chess for Success (Portland, OR);
  • $25,000 to Cristo Rey High School Sacramento Work Study (Sacramento, CA);
  • $24,000 to Schools of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (St. Louis, MO);
  • $20,000 to Summit Academy (Minneapolis, MN);
  • $15,000 to Aim High for High School (San Francisco, CA);
  • $15,000 to College Possible (St. Paul, MN);
  • $10,000 to Breakthrough Schools (Cleveland, OH);
  • $10,000 to Lacer Afterschool Programs (Los Angeles, CA);
  • $10,000 to the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center (Topeka, KS);
  • $8,000 to Boone High School (Boone, IA);
  • $7,500 to Classics for Kids (San Diego, CA);
  • $7,000 to Leap Learning Systems (Chicago, IL);
  • $6,500 to Distributive Education Clubs of America – Washington (Seattle, WA);
  • $5,000 to Explorations in Math (Seattle, WA);
  • $5,000 to the Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation (Milwaukee, WI);
  • $2,500 to Music in Schools Today (San Francisco, CA);
  • $1,000 to East Valley Christian School Tuition Organization (Chandler, AZ);

Also worth noting: U.S. Bancorp Foundation recently funded five different Teach for America chapters in one giving year, totaling $27,500 in grants.

On the corporate side of the equation, U.S. Bancorp has a Corporate Sponsorship program that supports state-level sports and fine-arts competitions in the same 25 states where the foundation gives K-12 education grants. It’s a very limited list, but if that niche fits your needs, you can find the corporation’s recent education sponsorships here.

PEOPLE:

  • John Pacheco, Director, U.S. Bancorp Foundation
  • Dan Bernert, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Sponsorships

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