Robert and Janice McNair Education Foundation: Texas Grants

OVERVIEW: The Robert and Janice McNair Education Foundation supports the field of education. It has programs for elementary, middle, and high school, as well as for college and career.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, elementary school, middle school, high school, college and career

IP TAKE: This foundation still has a strong Texas connection but it mostly looking to North Carolina with its educational support these days.

PROFILE: Established in 1989, The Robert and Janice McNair Education Foundation is a philanthropic vehicle of Houston Texans founder Robert McNair and his wife Janice. Billionaire Robert C. McNair was born in North Carolina and attended University of South Carolina. His wife Janice attended nearby Columbia College. The couple have been residents of Houston, Texas for decades, and McNair founded Cogen Technologies in 1983, one of the largest non-utility co-generators of electrical and thermal energy in the United States. Cogen was sold to Enron in 1999 for $1.5 billion and McNair is worth around $3 billion. McNair serves as chairman and CEO of McNair Group and he also founded the Houston Texans. The foundation aims to “ensure that all students are both academically and financially prepared for college and career.” Grantmaking areas of interest within the realm of education are elementary school, middle school, high school, and college and career.

Although the foundation’s grantmaking used to be broader and include human services, medicine, juvenile diabetes, pancreatic cancer, and neuroscience research, it is very focused on education now. It awards elementary school grants, middle school grants, and high school grants that are future-focused and lead youth to make positive career decisions in the future. The foundation also supports programs that offer alternatives to traditional four-year colleges. Overall, this foundation works with Rutherford County Schools “to provide programs and activities that are designed to raise awareness, expand knowledge and prepare students for a postsecondary education in their desired career.”

In the past, foundation grants have occasionally exceeded the million-dollar mark. But of course, many other grants have been less than this as well. The funder does not publish an online database of historical grants on its website. This funder used to support more Texas groups in the past but is now mostly focused on Rutherford County Schools in North Carolina. One enduring local connection is the partnership with McNair Scholars from the McNair Medical Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas to create the McNair Science Education Collaborative.

It does not appear that this foundation accepts unsolicited requests for nonprofit funding. Direct general questions to the foundation staff via online form.


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