This past summer, we looked at the Joyce Foundation’s big focuses on the environment and employment. As we noted back then, Joyce’s focus has been leaning a bit less local and more regional and national these days. Environmental advocacy organizations in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio have been getting a lot of Joyce’s attention, and the funder has been looking to share employment-related findings with federal policy makers to advance reforms.
To understand if this trend may continue in the year ahead, we’re now looking at how the most recent round of Joyce grants played out. Last month, the Chicago-based funder awarded $10 million in grants for energy efficiency, teacher preparation, gun safety, and more. These grants were part of one of the three grantmaking periods of 2016, and here are a few giving categories that stand out.
Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency
In the latest round of Joyce giving, six environmental groups received a total of $1.5 million in grants. This is all part of Joyce’s plan to help the Midwest reduce power sector carbon dioxide emissions through energy efficiency and clean power.
These grants went to groups based in multiple states, but one that will affect Illinois’s environmental impact went to the Environmental Defense Fund. This two-year $700,000 grant is aimed at advancing energy efficiency, smart grid, and clean energy policies in both Illinois and Ohio. However, none of the grantees that received environmental grants in this most recent round were based in the Chicago area.
Data Reporting for Teacher Preparedness
Across all program areas, education saw the most grants and the largest monetary commitment. Joyce has been focusing on statewide education plans in multiple Great Lakes States, with new grants going towards efforts in Minnesota and Illinois. In Illinois, Joyce gave a two-year $400,000 grant to Advance Illinois to work with the State Board of Education on a new data reporting program. There have been a lot of teacher improvement plans going forward across the country, but this one is unique because it’s harnessing the power of data to get the job done.
This is part of the funder’s support for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind. The only other Chicago-based grantee in the most recent round was the Ounce of Prevention Fund, which is using Joyce’s money to launch a new digital family engagement tool to boost kindergarten readiness. It seems that data and digital media are where it’s at for Joyce in terms of local education funding.
Gun Violence Prevention
Gun violence continues to be a big locally focused interest for Joyce in the city of Chicago, and that focus is more timely than ever amid a recent epidemic of gun violence that's concerned many funders. The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence received a one-year Joyce grant of $225,000 for policy education and advocacy, and the University of Chicago Crime Lab received a one-year $50,000 grant to help the city trace firearms and analyze crime data. All of Joyce’s funding in this regard is connected to research, coalition building, and advocacy to reduce firearm violence.
In addition to these categories, Joyce also recently committed $1.3 million across six grants to employment, $1.5 million across eight grants to the Joint Fund for Education and Employment, $1.3 million across 10 grants for democracy, $250,000 across five grants for cultural programs, and $625,000 across four grants for special opportunities. Cultural grants still tend to be pretty locally focused, with new grants going to the Free Street Theater and the Old Town School of Folk Music. And four new Chicago grantees received funding from Joyce’s Joint Fund for Education and Employment.
In other news, the foundation’s new cultural program director, Tracie Hall, announced the winners of the 2017 Joyce Awards earlier in December. These awards go towards collaborations between artists of color and cultural organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, and the Twin Cities. The funder has also been interested lately in the role of principals in public schools, so that could come into play in future grant cycles. The next proposal deadline for Joyce grants is April 12, 2017.