Holly Nuechterlein, Louis Calder Foundation

TITLE: Grant Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Charter management organizations and parochial schools, teacher development, school choice advocacy, and capital projects

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: In terms of the dollars they've given to school reform efforts, the Louis Calder Foundation isn't turning heads by making tons of million-dollar grants each year. But that doesn't mean they should be ignored. In fact, Calder has recently developed into a distinct charter funder, consistently making significant grants in that realm.

That makes Holly Nuechterlein, the foundation's grant program director, an interesting funder, and it's essential that interested grantseekers dive deep into Calder's grant making strategy, as Nuechterlein uses a focused approach to charter giving. For the past several years, the foundation has bestowed between 50-70 grants each year, totally between $6-$7 million each year.

It should be noted too that Calder is a strictly education reform focused foundation, and by far their largest focus is in delivering grants directly to charter and parochial schools (and the larger organizations that oversee them). Calder's second-largest focus is teacher and leadership development. An overarching interest in all of their funding arenas is how academics and instruction are delivered. 

When evaluating a proposal, program staff—which is Nuechterlein plus one program assistant—uncover what is taught at each school, how it is taught, and when it is taught. Organizations with a strong grasp on how all three intersect will likely bubble to the top of Calder's grant pile. 

A signature focus of the foundation is their support for charter management organizations and parochial schools. For instance, Calder supports both Seton Education Partners and the KIPP Foundation. For Seton Education Partners, a national network of Catholic schools, Calder's grant went to the founding year of a new school in the Bay Area. (Expansion is often key in Nuechterlein funding approach.)

Calder also provided recent grants to Uncommon Schools and TEAM Charter Schools, which are charter management organizations located in New York and New Jersey, respectively. Both are organizations in urban locations, and they target underserved populations. The grants show the Nuechterlein's willingness to build relationships with charter organizations and really get a grasp of their approaches to education.