GE Foundation: Grants for Science Education


OVERVIEW: The GE Foundation has been granting awards to educational institutions since the late 1980s. Among its key initiatives is support for improvements and innovation in math and science teaching. GE targets urban school districts in its education grantmaking.

IP TAKE: Like a lot of corporate foundations, GE is very targeted in its giving, choosing a select number of grantees, and centered around a focused, standards-based initiative. GE gives large amounts to seven urban school districts and to a set of nonprofits that support its program.

PROFILE: The GE Foundation is dedicated to solving “some of the world’s most difficult problems,” and this includes U.S. education.

The GE Foundation might be the company’s philanthropic arm, but it still approaches the issue from a perspective that reflects its corporate origins: it is hands-on, its assessment is rigorous, it wants measurable and concrete outcomes, it relies on quantitative feedback, and it expects hard work from everyone involved.

GE's giving is also very targeted. It carefully selects a strategy and resulting grantees, and wants to have its stamp on the overall initiative.

Grantmaking happens primarily through the Developing Futures in Education program, which is focused on the urban school districts (all home to significant GE businesses) of Louisville, Ky.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Stamford, Conn.; Erie, Pa.; Atlanta, Ga.; New York City, N.Y.; and Milwaukee, Wis.

Through this program, the GE Foundation has dedicated resources and corporate expertise to train administrators and teachers across the school districts and expand access to programs like Advanced Placement that prepare students for success in their pursuit of higher education and in their careers.

GE's program also aims to create systemic change, build management capacity and leadership, and support district math and science initiatives. According to GE, the Developing Futures Program has invested more than millions of dollars and thousands of hours to support student achievement and professional development for teachers in K–12 public schools across the U.S.

Grants to the districts range from $15 million to $35 million, although the time frame for this giving isn't clear. These districts receive money from the GE Foundation for improved curriculum and teacher professional development, along with the added bonus of GE employee volunteers who work with teachers and students on math and science projects. The foundation also hosts an annual Business and Education Summit that brings together hundreds of “top educators, leading education non-profits and Fortune 500 corporations” to increase communication and partnership-building among these various stakeholders.

The seven-district approach is the biggest funding initiative of the GE Foundation, but it does value partnerships with entities other than schools themselves. Also eligible for GE funds are public and nonprofit colleges and charitable organizations. Some of the non-district recipients are the bipartisan non-profit Achieve, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the National Education Association, the National Science Teachers Association, and Student Achievement Partners. As with the seven school districts, GE's partners are few but receive serious funds through multi-year, multi-million-dollar grants.

In addition to its grant programs, GE’s Education program also offers a number of postsecondary scholarships. Many of these awards are geared specifically towards students in STEM, business, or related fields, and/or are directed to benefit minority and low-income students through financial assistance, help towards college completion, mentorship programs, and leadership development.

In limited instances, GE has also partnered with higher ed institutions to support STEM research in its other program areas. Under its “Developing Health Globally” initiative of its Health program, for example, GE supports the Emory University Center for Global Safe Water (CGSW), which “works to evaluate needs for safe water and promote changes in practice through research, training and capacity-building.”

Finally, education gifts are available at the K-12 and postsecondary level through GE’s matching gifts program, which matches employee contributions to qualifying schools dollar-for-dollar. Organizations in more than 75 countries are eligible to receive funds through this program.

Although GE's foundation is bigger than many corporate foundations, in typical fashion it doesn't offer much help to those looking for funding, but sending an email to wouldn't be a bad place to start.


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