In Q1 2022, our foundation awarded 41 grants totaling over $12 million dollars. Of these, 17 grants were new and 24 were renewals.
Our first quarter grantmaking aligns with our updated funding model, which focuses our work on identifying and fueling the scale of cost-effective programs and solutions that accelerate improvement in key academic and socioemotional outcomes for all children. Inspired by venture philanthropy, the model puts an emphasis on grantmaking and strategic support that unlock innovation, evidence, and growth.
Below we highlight just some of the many direct impact and ecosystem organizations we’re proud to support this quarter as we begin our 2022 grantmaking. For highlights from 2021, please download our 2021 Grantmaking & Impact Report.
Unlocking Innovation and Growth (Direct Impact Grantees)
We’re excited to welcome MESA, a national organization that provides STEM programming to students from kindergarten to college, to the Inspired Minds portfolio with a one-year pilot grant of $150,000. MESA’s goal is to diversify the population of STEM graduates and the STEM workforce through comprehensive support; participants have shown larger gains in science, math, and core subject GPAs versus a matched sample and attend college at higher rates than their peers. MESA will use Overdeck Family Foundation funding to support the development of a national curriculum and standardization of data collection and impact assessment practices, leading to increased program cohesiveness throughout the MESA consortium.
We additionally welcomed Almost Fun to the Inspired Minds portfolio with a one-year pilot grant of $125,000. Almost Fun provides access to a digital library of math lessons designed to help learners build a conceptual understanding of math through culturally relevant content. The organization will use this grant to build a more impact-oriented offering, strengthen evidence, and attract additional philanthropic dollars toward the problem of addressing math anxiety. We expect our funding will help to improve the Almost Fun program model to better support their 200,000 monthly users cost-effectively, and to test a revenue model for financial sustainability.
New to the Innovative Schools portfolio is Ignite! Reading, which applies an evidence-based approach to reading with virtual 1:1, daily 15-minute tutoring sessions that are incorporated into the school day. Ignite! Reading received a one-year pilot grant of $300,000 to continue to generate compelling evidence that the program delivers accelerated outcomes. This grant will support improved cost-effectiveness and enhancement of their model, and is expected to deliver 2.5x improvement in reading scores compared to students who are not in the Ignite! program.
Also new to the Innovative Schools portfolio is CommonLit, which offers a research-based, free, online reading program for grades three to 12, designed to improve student literacy outcomes. With a one-year pilot grant of $300,000, CommonLit will expand their 360 curriculum and supplemental library to drive equitable academic and socioemotional student outcomes for more than 12 million students by 2023, focusing on ELLs, students with disabilities, and students who lack foundational reading skills.
A $300,000 pilot grant over one year to Quill.org, a platform of literacy tools that helps students develop basic reading and writing skills by providing automated coaching via artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Our funding, which is new within the Innovative Schools portfolio, will support the continued innovation, validation, and scale of Quill’s suite of literacy tools. Since it launched in 2014, Quill has provided more than five million students (67 percent of whom attend low-income schools) with feedback on more than 1 billion sentences, which translates to $200 million in teacher time saved grading.
Lastly, new to the Innovative Schools portfolio, a one-year pilot grant of $150,000 to OnYourMark to support the development and validation of their virtual tutoring model. Launched in Fall 2021, OnYourMark partners with Charter School Growth Fund portfolio schools to offer daily 1:1, 20- to 30-minute tutoring for students in grades K-2, using a scripted research-based curriculum and validated assessment to measure progress and impact. The organization will use this grant to refine their virtual tutoring model, and build internal capacity to support organizational growth.
MULTI-YEAR GRANTEES (NEW GRANTS AND ONGOING PLEDGES)
A one-year grant of $2 million to Khan Academy, the most popular math resource used in classrooms, which offers a free online platform with a comprehensive library of standards-aligned content from preschool through college. Our funding will support Khan Academy’s validation, research, product development, and capacity building efforts to achieve greater scale in school districts, increasing reach by 20 percent to one million K-12 students through their District Partnership Program.
A grant of $1 million to Waterford Upstart (year two of a four-year pledge) to support the expansion of their in-home school readiness program for four-year-olds. Eighty-eight percent of Upstart’s summer program participants completed the program “K-ready” and, despite Pre-K enrollment declining nationally, Upstart has more than tripled annual reach since we began funding in SY 2018-19. Upstart will use our funding to continue to expand its Summer Learning Path program and to pilot Upstart in 12 new states while advocating for funding at the federal and state levels. We expect the funding to allow Upstart to serve 216,000+ families by 2025.
A $650,000 grant to TalkingPoints (year two of a three-year pledge, and an additional grant of up to $174,500 for a Strategic Data Project Fellow) will support the organization to scale and strengthen key capacities. Over the course of the three year grant which began in 2021, TalkingPoints projects a reach of 9.3 million users, resulting in an estimated 14,000 additional kindergarten-ready kids.
An $810,000 grant to Learn Fresh (year two of a two-year pledge, and an additional $60,000 for a Strategic Data Project Fellow) to continue supporting the organization in scaling NBA Math Hoops through both physical and digital models. Learn Fresh, which aims to improve underrepresented student engagement and STEM achievement through fun and relevant educational games, plans to use the funding to expand access to the NBA Math Hoops program to an additional 400,000 students and 150,000 families, with expected gains of 27 to 35 percent in math fluency and 15 to 23 percent in statistics and probability skills.
A grant of $600,000 (pledge year two of three) to Nurse-Family Partnership, which provides home visiting services to low-income mothers, will support scaling the Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First programs through model innovations and increased data capacity, reaching an estimated 139,000 families by 2024. Together, these programs have been shown to reduce preterm birth and positively impact healthy birth outcomes, as well as reduce mental health problems and language delays, which are key predictors of K-readiness.
$400,000 to the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s United in Care program (second disbursement of a three-year grant) to support a pilot program that offers an innovative approach to the childcare crisis in New Jersey. The program’s hub and spoke model builds partnerships between licensed centers and registered family childcare providers; family childcare providers benefit from the stability and structure of a center, while families receive scholarships for care, thereby offering economic opportunity and stability for both working parents and early education professionals.
A $600,000 expenditure responsibility grant over two years to Brilliant, which builds digital science, math, and engineering interactives for 11- to 18-year-olds, to create pathways for underserved students to access high-quality student-directed math learning that builds STEM interest and skills. We expect our funding to help Brilliant reach at least 50,000 underserved students by the end of 2022 and 200,000 by the end of 2023.
A grant of $600,000 over two years to Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS) to support the validation and continuous improvement of their Elevate Platform, which is designed to help teachers solicit real-time feedback on student engagement through indicators that predict student academic outcomes. This grant is expected to expand the reach of the Elevate Platform to 160,000 students and 3,200 teachers by 2024.
A grant of $268,000 over six months will support the National Museum of Mathematics, a long-time grantee, to hire a summer intern in addition to continuing to reach a broad public audience, fundraising for ongoing operations and expansion, and assessing options for in-person versus online participation and visitation.
A one-year grant of $250,000 to Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) will support scholarships for New Jersey students to attend CTY programs.
A grant of $129,000 over one year to New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences at Drew University to provide a hybrid summer program to 60 New Jersey high school students. The immersive enrichment program aims to broaden students’ appreciation and knowledge of the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the sciences, as well as future career paths in STEM.
A one-year grant of $100,000 to Liberty Science Center (LSC) to excite learners of all ages about the power, promise, and fun of science and technology. LSC’s team of STEM educators provide tailored science programs to students and teachers onsite, offsite, and online, reaching 500,000 a year and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.
A grant of $100,000 (year two of a two-year pledge) to Family Engagement Lab’s FASTalk, which offers parents and teachers two-way messaging with preloaded messages aligned to high-quality ELA curricula. Our funding will focus on building internal capacity in support of growth and reducing programmatic cost, helping FASTalk reach an estimated 91,000 families over two years.
Unlocking Evidence: RESEARCH and FIELD BUILDING
Ecosystem grants are designed to clear the path to scale for our direct impact grantees and strategies.
A grant of $1 million to Georgia State University Research Foundation to support the Learning Engineering Tools Competition. This funding is designed to spur innovation for early stage organizations in K-12 assessment and accelerated learning.
A one-year grant of $451,000 to Promise Venture Studio, a venture accelerator focused on early childhood. This funding will be used to create an “Innovating Impact Fellowship,” which we expect to catalyze innovation in the early childhood field; increase the impact on key priority areas such as healthy birth outcomes, K-readiness, and early school success; and support early stage organizations.
A one-year grant of $250,000 to Harvard Kennedy School to examine an evidence-based reappraisal intervention adapted to the needs of Head Start teachers. This research study aims to understand the impact of reappraisal on early educators’ emotional resilience to see whether the technique can reduce employment turnover and burnout while increasing emotionally responsive interactions between early childhood educators and children.
A one-year grant of $250,000 grant to The Hunt Institute, an organization dedicated to bringing together people and resources to inspire and inform elected officials and policymakers about key issues in education. The Hunt Institute will use this grant to increase bipartisan state-level policymaker engagement on early childhood topics through briefings, convenings, and technical assistance.
A one-year grant of $100,000 to Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Initiative to collect family and employer perspectives on childcare to inform policymakers in creating targeted childcare approaches that meet the needs of families today. This education effort aims to result in policy recommendations that ensure access to high-quality childcare for all American families.
$100,000 over eight months to Learning Heroes, a research and parent engagement organization that aims to inform and equip parents to best support their children’s educational and developmental success. This grant will support Learning Heroes research efforts aimed at increasing general understanding about how to equitably engage families, equip the field with actionable data and resources to guide family engagement practices and policies, and catalyze a national conversation on innovative policies and practices within this space.
$75,000 over one year to National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA), a program of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University that provides a comprehensive set of tools and resources for tutoring organizations, schools, and districts to drive improved effectiveness, cost-reduction, and accessibility of high-impact tutoring for students in need. With this grant, NSSA will convene 100 tutoring practitioners, researchers, and district leaders to share best practices and challenges for scaling and implementing high-impact tutoring through a spring conference and virtual convenings.