Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation: Grants for Science Education

OVERVIEW: The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm of its namesake law firm, and is committed to supporting education in the inner-city communities in which the firm has a presence.

IP TAKE: This foundation acknowledges that its biggest grant amounts are earmarked for their V.I.P.s—calling them Relationship Grants, and more or less distributing them to the same players year-to-year. But it is more flexible when it comes to its smaller Community Grants—awarding up to $2,000 per classroom for a wide variety of learning and participatory projects. Both of these funding streams include a healthy group of STEM projects.

PROFILE: The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Brown Rudnick LLC, an international law firm focused on business law, with headquarters in Boston, and additional U.S. offices in Hartford, New York City, Orange County, CA, Providence and Washington, D.C., which are the only places the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation will grant funds. And the only types of funds it grants are in the realm of education, with K-12 education at the forefront.

This support of STEM education flows through the foundation's commitment to creating positive social change by supporting inner-city education. It does this through both its Relationship Grants and Community Grants programs.

Relationship Grants is an apt name for the foundation’s larger (in terms of amounts given) program. Through this program the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation not only gives funds, but provides employee volunteer hours and pro bono legal services—a relationship deeper than a one-shot cash infusion. The term “relationship” can also refer to the fact that virtually all of the grantees under this umbrella are multi-year recipients.

Relationship Grants are more often awarded to 501(c)(3)s than directly to school districts or individual schools. Despite the entrenched relationships built into these grants, the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation does have an open LOI process for them, with applications due in March.

But if your STEM project is based in a classroom, your needs are for a one-time specific program and you can make use of a modest amount, the foundation’s Community Grants are the way to go. Its tagline here is “Front Line Focus,” which neatly encapsulates where and how these smaller amounts ($2,000 maximum) should be directed. The foundation adds:

Although the amount of these grants may seem modest, we have found that the connections that they foster, the activities they encourage and the energy they create, have the potential to unleash countless contributions to improving inner-city education in the communities where we live and work.

Grants given through this program can either be directed by a school or classroom teacher, or otherwise by a 501(c)(3) that is partnering with a school to “recognize, encourage and collaborate with the front-line workers within the educational system who often do not have a voice in funding decisions.” The projects also need to be “concrete,” and its inner-city education focus narrows down further—limited to Boston, Hartford, New York City, Providence and Washington, D.C., (taking Orange County, CA out of the mix).

The Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation has shown that it’s very open to the types of subjects and activities its grants will support—as well as how those funds will be used—so long as it’s a classroom-driven, one-time project (rather than ongoing programming).

The Community Grants program is an online open application, with considerations made monthly.


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