Toyota USA: Grants for Science Education

OVERVIEW:  The Toyota USA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the ubiquitous car manufacturer, only supports STEM education, mainly through large K-12 projects. The foundation typically funds nonprofits that work on a citywide, regional, or national scale, and focus on STEM curriculum development, student engagement, and teacher training. 

IP TAKE:  The foundation prioritizes work with an environmental focus. Grantseekers whose science education program is locally focused and school-based might be find more opportunities directly from the corporation, for example an international environmental science trip for individual teachers.

PROFILE: The Toyota USA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Toyota Motor Sales USA. It seeks to enhance “the quality of education by supporting innovative programs and building partnerships with organizations dedicated to improving teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” The foundation prioritizes K-12 STEM education and awards grants fairly evenly throughout elementary, middle, and high school-oriented projects. There is also some overlap with education for both pre-K and community populations when the work involves a K-12 cohort.

Toyota's funding is indeed large, but it is also often limited to a small group of recipients. According to the foundation's own statistics, it funds just 6 to 9 percent of the applications it receives each year. The foundation also limits its proposals to one-year asks and requires that grantees wait two years before applying again for any foundation funding.

Consequently, grantseekers should ensure their request for funding is incisive and compelling and that they will be able to continue with their program beyond Toyota’s single year of support. Indeed, if grantseekers’ science education work has an environmental bent, so much the better, as Toyota (similar to other businesses working in the manufacturing industry) prefers to support environmental conservation and natural resources whenever possible.

To apply, complete an online application (essentially an LOI) providing a "brief snapshot of the program." Toyota accepts submissions year-round but decisions are made twice a year, in March and September. Grants are awarded in the spring of every year. The foundation also emphasizes that it does not provide specific deadlines "as they depend on the volume of applications received," so grantseekers should "apply early on in the cycle to ensure you application is considered for that particular period."

In addition to the Toyota USA Foundation, the auto company gives to science education through its corporate side’s Community Outreach initiatives, specifically in communities where it has a significant manufacturing presence. These include cities and regions in Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Toyota’s Community Outreach prioritizes STEM education, but supports more general K-12 education as well. Through this program, Toyota awards grants to fund arts projects in addition to those related to STEM. These funds typically support more localized community work, both for K-12 education nonprofits and for schools. Some states and regions have hard deadlines, others are ongoing opportunities. Check locations for details.

Toyota USA Foundation community grants are for “a minimum of $50,000 per year.” A list of FAQs and select past grantees can be found here.  

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