OVERVIEW: The GE Foundation supports improvements and innovation in math and science teaching. GE’s education grantmaking prioritizes urban school districts.
IP TAKE: Like a lot of corporate foundations, GE focuses its grantmaking around a select number of grantees in 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, the philanthropic organization of GE, seeks to solve “some of the world’s most difficult problems,” and this includes STEM Education. The foundation “is committed to transforming our communities and shaping the diverse workforce of tomorrow by leveraging the power of GE,” and it seeks to develop “skills by bringing innovative learning in community health globally and STEM education, scaling what works, and building sustainable solutions.” Grantmaking happens primarily through the Developing Futures in Education program.
GE approaches grantmaking 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. The foundation’s grantmaking is also very focused. It carefully selects a strategy and resulting grantees, and it wants to have its stamp on the overall initiative.
The Developing Futures in Education program focuses on urban school districts (all home to significant GE businesses) in Louisville, Ky.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Stamford, Conn.; Erie, Pa.; Atlanta, Ga.; New York City, N.Y.; and Milwaukee, Wis. Through this program, the GE Foundation dedicates 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 seeks 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 millions of dollars and thousands of hours supporting 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 is unclear. 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 GE Foundation’s biggest funding initiative, but it does value partnerships with entities other than schools themselves. Public and nonprofit colleges and charitable organizations are also eligible for GE funds. Non-district recipients include 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 limited instances, GE also partners with higher education institutions to support STEM research in its other program areas. Under the “Developing Health Globally” initiative in 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, it doesn't offer much help to new grantseekers looking for funding. Contact the foundation via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ann R. Klee, Vice President