Education Funding

Nearly a Quarter of Foundation Giving Goes to Education

By Catherine Gewertz — March 21, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

As the U.S. economy boomed last year, education remained the favorite cause of philanthropists, garnering one-quarter of all grant dollars given by the country’s largest foundations, a report shows.

An analysis of the giving patterns of private and community foundations, performed by the New York City-based Foundation Center, showed a total of $2.8 billion in grants to precollegiate and higher education, an increase of 19.2 percent over the previous year.

The report issued last week, “Foundation Giving Trends,” examines grants reported to the nonprofit research center between June 1999 and July 2000. While the grants were awarded in 1998 and 1999, the report refers to the period studied as 1999.

Overall foundation giving grew 19.2 percent—to a record-setting $11.6 billion—during that period, a phenomenon researchers attributed to the expansion of the U.S. economy in the 1990s and a stock market that remained bullish into early 2000. The center tracked similar growth in 1998: 22 percent more than the previous year, for a total of $9.7 billion.

For More Information

Highlights from the report, “Foundation Giving Trends,” are available from the Foundation Center.

Postsecondary institutions continued to receive a larger share of education grant money than did elementary or secondary education. In 1999, 61 percent, or $1.7 billion, of that money went to higher education, including graduate and professional programs. Twenty-nine percent, or $802 million, went to elementary and secondary education and related services, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.

K-12 education received 7 percent of all grant dollars, the report says.

The study traced historical patterns in giving to education, noting that foundations’ support of K-12 education grew steadily during the 1980s and shifted from private schools to public ones, with a focus on improving the quality of education. Funding to public K-12 schools increased overall through the 1990s, despite a couple of years’ decline in 1995 and 1996.

Laura Fleming, the executive director of Grantmakers for Education, a San Diego-based advocacy group, said it is important for foundations to support schools directly, but also to invest in organizations that help them improve, such as those that provide professional development for teachers and administrators, and nonprofit community partners.

“Especially with this push for accountability [for student achievement], funders are increasingly starting to see that we need to invest in and support schools from the inside and the outside at the same time,” she said. “They are starting to understand that what we really need is to help build the capacity to really make the improvements, to have all children learning, within and around the system.”

More Large Grants

Foundation Center researchers noted the continuation of a trend they had identified in the previous year’s report: the increasing popularity of large grants. In the most recent year studied, 169 grants exceeded $5 million. In 1998, 146 grants exceeded the $5 million mark, nearly double the number of such large grants in 1997.

That trend played out in education as well, with an unprecedented 106 grants of $2.5 million or more in that category—12 more than last year and more than four times the number of grants that large in 1990, the study found. Most of those large grants went to higher education; only 23 went to elementary or secondary school programs.

Grants of more than $5 million were up as well, from 36 in last year’s report to 46 in the new study.

The five foundations that gave the most to education were: the Lilly Endowment, of Indianapolis, $189 million; the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, of Atlanta, $112 million; the Annenberg Foundation, of St. Davids, Pa., $79 million; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, of New York City, $59 million; and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, of Battle Creek, Mich., $52 million.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2001 edition of Education Week as Nearly a Quarter of Foundation Giving Goes to Education

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding The COVID School-Relief Funds You Might Not Know About, Explained
Governors got $7 billion to spend on COVID relief efforts for K-12 and higher education with broad discretion on how to use it.
6 min read
Illustration of a helping hand with dollar bill bridging economy gap during coronavirus pandemic, assisting business people to overcome financial difficulties.
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding Puerto Rico Schools to Use New Aid for Teacher Raises, Hurricane and COVID Recovery
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced $215 million in federal funds before the start of the new school year.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the University of Puerto Rico at Carolina during a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 28, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the University of Puerto Rico at Carolina during a trip to San Juan on July 28.
Carlos Rivera Giusti/GDA via AP Images
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Education Funding Quiz
Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About ESSER funding for Career and Technical Education Programs?
Answer 7 questions to assess your knowledge on ESSER funding for CTE programs.
Content provided by iCEV
Education Funding 3 Things in the Senate Climate-Change Bill That Could Affect K-12 Schools
The sweeping proposal includes funding opportunities for schools to operate electric buses and improve air quality in buildings.
3 min read
Image: San Carlos, CA, USA - 2019 : Yellow low emissions NGV school bus refuel cleanest burning alternative fuel at compressed natural gas CNG fueling station owned by PG&E
Michael V/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus