Nellie Mae Education Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation focuses on racial equity in K-12 education by emphasizing student-centered learning. Geographically, NMEF’s focuses on six New England states.

FUNDING AREAS: K-12 education, racial equity in education, student-centered learning

IP TAKE: This is a transparent funder that shares details about its strategy with grantseekers and the general public. Make sure grant pitches have a racial equity focus.

PROFILE: Established in 1990, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) is a New England-focused funder based in Quincy, Massachusetts. The foundation is the largest public charity solely focused on education in the New England states. It was established by the Nellie Mae Corporation, a nonprofit education financing company and has set a goal of getting 80 percent of New England students ready for college and career by the year 2030. Grantmaking interests include K-12 education, racial equity in education, and student-centered learning.

In 2014, the foundation developed four new initiatives: Build Public Understanding and Demand, Build Educator Ownership, Leadership, and Capacity, Develop Effective Systems Designs, and Advance Quality and Rigor of Student-Centered Practices. More recently, this funder underwent a strategic review of its grantmaking and shifted its focus to racial equity. NMEF tends to support grantees that reject a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to learning and engages students in various ways. Education grantmaking supports personalized learning, competency-based learning, learning beyond the traditional classroom, and helping students take ownership of their learning processes. NMEF further seeks ways to engage low-income students and students of colors to overcome racial disparities in college and career outcomes. High school-level student-centered approaches have been getting the bulk of this funder’s attention.

Many grants have been between $5,000 and $75,000. Grantees include Educate Maine, Data for Black Lives, the Connecticut Forum, and the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Nonprofits can search for other previously awarded grants here. Grants are typically limited to groups in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine.

The funder welcomes brief synopses about relevant work. Those can be emailed to The NMEF website provides information about open grant opportunities, and nonprofits can sign up for an email list to get updates about grant-related news. Direct general inquiries and questions about grant opportunities to Program Officer Ellen Wang at The phone number is (781) 348-4200 for the foundation. Keep up with recent foundation news, hiring announcements, and staff blog posts in the funder’s news section.


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