How The PIMCO Foundation's Focus on "Potential" Relates to Literacy

The PIMCO Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company), an investment management firm that is itself a subsidiary of Allianz. On one level, that’s neither here nor there, because the foundation supports a wide swath of needs unrelated to the company’s for-profit work. But once you get into the application itself, you’ll see how this parent company relates: the pre-emptive financial reporting for this grant application is as rigorous as these things come (more on that below).

The mission of The PIMCO Foundation is “to empower people globally to reach their full potential.” On the surface, that sounds fairly generic but it actually gives some good touchstones for its commitment to literacy. Key in on the words “empower” and “potential.”

The prospects for your literacy program fall under the foundation's Education giving. Within that general area, the foundation only supports early childhood education and “college access.” It's worth noting that the foundation's lead sentence in its Education intro is: "Regardless of socio-economic status, geography, or background, we believe all individuals should have equal access to a college education." This is another way of stating an interest in investing in "potential."

The funder's commitment to early childhood education (age 0-5) is about "enriching the lives of children and their caregivers." A recent grant went to Reading Partners (New York, NY), likely focusing on their youngest students (5-year-olds) and it's easy to see how other literacy programs could potentially fit the blueprint for this foundation's early childhood education support.

On the college access end of the spectrum, there's also potential opportunity. One of the foundation's three throughlines of college access support is an eagerness for programming the centers on “Academic, social, and emotional support, helping high school students prepare for and access a four year university.” As a literacy programmer, there’s likely the most meaning in the word “academic.” For instance, if your literacy program is one you typically frame as dedicated to ensuring working proficiencies, there’s an opportunity here instead to think about how these proficiencies translate to college readiness.

Education grants (and therefore potential grants for your literacy program) from The PIMCO Foundation range from $25,000 to $100,000. They are typically limited to one-year support (though the foundation will entertain multi-year requests to a limited number of “returning” grantees). 

"College access" falls under the foundation's Education giving. It defines "college access" by stating: “We specifically seek to invest in innovative organizations that serve low-income, high-risk, first generation college students to and through college.”

The PIMCO Foundation then provides three bullet-points for how it supports college access programming, one of which directly relates to asset building and financial inclusion. The foundation seeks to support programs provide, "Tools to help students and their caregivers financially prepare for postsecondary education."

That description provides flexibility, as it makes a point to include "caregivers" in its description. The flexibility expands even further with the foundation's other two college access bullet points, which touch upon "academic, social, and emotional support" and a "continuum of care" for students to and through college. If you can position your asset building and financial inclusion work within these contexts as well, so much the better.

These grants range from $25,000 to $100,000. They are typically limited to one-year support (though the foundation will entertain multi-year requests to a limited number of “returning” grantees). A recent grantee working in the financial inclusion space is Moneythink, based in Chicago, IL, but know that while The PIMCO Foundation explicitly states that there are “no geographic restrictions” for its Education giving (and therefore its financial inclusion/asset building giving), two regions are clearly favored: New York City and Southern California. That is likely because Southern California (specifically Orange County) and New York City are the two hubs on its for-profit side, and are the only two regions in which the foundation gives for one of its other granting categories (Critical Community Needs) as well as when it comes to Event Sponsorships. (For the record, the foundation also supports a very healthy employee matching gifts program, as well as an infrastructure for employee volunteers.)

As for that for-profit side of PIMCO: This is a rigorous application, and it notably relates to the management of your organization’s money. The foundation requires extensive discussion of your organization’s financials, and it goes far beyond the baseline requirement to be 501(c)(3). There’s analysis of your program-to-administration overall operating budget ratios, your cash-on-hand vs. current liabilities ratios, and a hard look at how diversified your income is (private donors, foundation grants, government support, service contracts, and more).

The good news is that The PIMCO Foundation’s application is an open one. Requests for Education funding are due at the end of May.

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The PIMCO Foundation: Grants for Early Childhood Education

The PIMCO Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

The PIMCO Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education