FirstEnergy: Grants for Science Education


OVERVIEW: FirstEnergy is a U.S.-based “diversified energy company” committed to philanthropy through its corporate enterprise as well as through its charitable arm, the FirstEnergy Foundation. FirstEnergy supports education, community development, and arts and culture. In order to be eligible, grantseekers must be in a community that receives FirstEnergy services.

IP TAKE: FirstEnergy awards modest grants to pre-K and K-12 STEM classroom projects and larger grants to college and university programs. It also provides larger amounts to community-organization STEM education initiatives. Unsolicited applications are not accepted, but new grantseekers should still consider contacting local management or the company's Community Involvement Department.

PROFILE: FirstEnergy, a “diversified energy company” headquartered in Akron, OH, funds STEM education through both the Corporate Affairs & Community Involvement department and through the company’s charitable arm, the FirstEnergy Foundation. Corporate funding prioritizes smaller pre-K and K-12 projects while the foundation provides larger grants to colleges and universities.

Both corporate and foundation grants place geographic restrictions on their funding and only fund organizations operating in areas where FirstEnergy provides services and does business. This includes portions of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, and Michigan.

FirstEnergy’s funds corporate grants for STEM education through its STEM Classroom Grants program. These classroom grants provide up to $1,000 to educators at schools and youth groups for those serving pre-K and K-12 student.

FirstEnergy seeks STEM classroom projects that are “creative” and that “improve, advance and enrich student learning.” The STEM classroom grants also support projects that encourage networking, mentoring, team teaching, and professional development for the lead educator. Classroom projects that address electricity are likely to receive extra attention.

STEM Classroom Grants cannot be used for media equipment, admissions fees, or transportation. These grants also may not be used to compensate the classroom educators themselves (though funds can be earmarked for professionals who visit the classroom).

The FirstEnergy Foundation funds somewhat larger grants than the corporate grants do; however, the foundation will not directly support public or private schools for the pre-K or K-12 grade levels. Instead, it prioritizes both public and private colleges and universities. The only way for pre-K, elementary, and secondary schools to receive FirstEnergy Foundation funding is through a school district’s established nonprofit foundation. But far more of this foundation’s STEM education support of younger students is given to community-based organizations—again, in communities in which its corporate side provides services and does business.

When it comes to foundation-based grants, the greater amounts—and greater frequencies—are in the realm of higher education. This funding goes directly to general studies colleges and universities for STEM education programs, as well as STEM-centric schools and professional societies that support postsecondary STEM education. Grant amounts can range from $50 to $1 million, with most landing between $1,000 and $5,000.

The foundation’s education funding works to foster “an educated workforce by supporting professional development and literacy, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education initiatives.” Grantseekers should also keep in mind that the foundation seeks to “improve the vitality of our communities and support key safety initiatives,” as well as “promote local and regional economic development and revitalization efforts,” because community-based STEM education programming can be related to these efforts as well.

The FirstEnergy Foundation does not accept unsolicited applications. However, the foundation encourages new grantseekers to make contact with local FirstEnergy management, to reach out to its Community Involvement Department, and to look over the grant application.