In Q1 2023, our foundation awarded 31 grants totaling over $15.4 million. Of these, 10 grants were new, 15 were renewals, and six were disbursements for ongoing pledges.
Our first quarter grantmaking focuses on identifying and fueling the scale of cost-effective programs and solutions that accelerate improvement in key academic and socioemotional outcomes for all children. As always, we place an emphasis on grantmaking and strategic support that unlock innovation, evidence, and growth for our grantees.
Below, we highlight just some of the direct impact and ecosystem organizations we’re proud to support as we begin our 2023 grantmaking cycle. For highlights from last year, explore our 2022 Grantmaking & Impact Report.
Unlocking Innovation and Growth (Direct Impact Grantees)
A one-year pilot grant of $300,000 to Challenger Center for Space Science Education, an organization that delivers virtual and in-person immersive, participatory STEM simulations through space and deep-sea exploration. Challenger Center, which is new to the Inspired Minds portfolio, currently operates 35 sites in 26 states across the U.S., and has partnerships with NASA, Blue Origin, and the National Science Foundation. The organization will use the grant to grow its reach by 30 percent (reaching over 240,000 students), improve site sustainability, and develop a better understanding of the impact of Challenger Center experiences on children’s STEM interest.
A one-year pilot grant of $200,000 to EdNavigator, an organization that connects families to “Navigators” who guide them in accessing early intervention services and navigating school systems. EdNavigator, which is new to the Early Impact portfolio, will use the funding to reach 600 families through referrals from pediatric well-child visits and to evaluate the impact and scalability of reaching families through the healthcare channel to help them access early intervention services. Data show that only three percent of children receive early intervention services by three years of age. The goal of this grant is to ensure that over 80 percent of early intervention referral needs are met, which research links to benefits in later academic achievement.
A one-year pilot grant of $100,000 to Parent Teacher Home Visits (PTHV), a family engagement model designed to build trusting home-school partnerships through teacher home visits. PTHV, which is new to the Early Impact portfolio, will use the funding to improve sales and marketing capabilities, preparing the organization for accelerated scale. Evaluations of PTHV have found that student participation results in decreased chronic absenteeism and increased academic proficiency; when the program is implemented systematically, there are school-wide impacts. For example, evaluations show a 35 percent increase in the odds of scoring proficient on ELA tests among all students at a school where home visits are being implemented systematically.
MULTI-YEAR GRANTEES (NEW GRANTS AND ONGOING PLEDGES)
$4,500,000 over three years to CommonLit, which offers a research-based, free, online reading program for grades three to 12, shown to help students develop and improve reading and writing skills. During CommonLit’s pilot grant, the organization reached over 470,000 educators; a large-scale quasi-experimental study by Mathematica found that teachers who used CommonLit’s 360 units at the recommended dosage saw 2.1 months greater growth in student reading skills than teachers in the comparison group. This new grant will help CommonLit enhance its product and build out its scale capacity, accelerating learning for 3.7 million students and expanding reach to 6,200 schools.
$3,000,000 over three years to Learn Fresh, an organization which aims to improve underrepresented student engagement and STEM achievement through fun and relevant educational games. This multiyear grant will support Learn Fresh in piloting STEM Goals (soccer) and EcoTour (music and environmental sustainability) programs, launching an RCT to evaluate the impact of its offerings, and continue scaling NBA Math Hoops, their signature community program, which features a basketball board game, mobile app, and curriculum that allows students to learn fundamental math skills through the game of basketball. We expect this grant to help Learn Fresh improve math fluency and social-emotional outcomes for 1.5 million third through eighth grade students.
$2,500,000 over two years to OnYourMark to scale its “science of reading”-based virtual early literacy tutoring program. Launched in Fall 2021, OnYourMark partners with Charter School Growth Fund portfolio schools to offer daily 1:1, 20- to 30-minute virtual tutoring for students in kindergarten through second grade, using a research-based curriculum and validated assessment to measure impact. During its pilot grant, OnYourMark refined and validated their model, with early evidence suggesting that, after only 10 weeks of tutoring, 61 percent of OnYourMark students made “above average” or “well above average” growth. Over the next two years the organization will be focused on growing its reach to 5,000 students, while reducing its costs by experimenting with greater tutor-to-student ratios and piloting a blended tutoring model which incorporates tech-enabled curriculum.
$2,200,000 over two years to Quill.org, a platform of literacy tools that helps students, particularly those in low-income schools, develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills by providing real-time coaching and feedback via artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Over the course of its pilot grant, Quill reached 2.6 million students, including 800,000 students who completed its full intervention, which incorporates 100 writing prompts. Quill also introduced its most advanced reading comprehension and writing tool called “Reading for Evidence” to 900 schools and launched AIwritingcheck.org, a free tool for educators to determine if student work was written by AI. Quill will use this new round of funding to continue to innovate and scale its tools, reaching five million students a year and enabling them to become stronger writers at 1.5x the rate of students not using Quill.
A $1 million disbursement for year three of a four-year grant to Waterford Upstart to support the expansion of a school readiness program for four-year-olds, reaching 216,000 families by 2025. Upstart will use the funding to better understand reach, impact, and cost at a disaggregated level, ensuring that the organization continues to have measurable impact while scaling. Since receiving this grant in 2021, Upstart has served over 84,000 four-year-olds across the country, helping children meet early learning milestones that are critical for school readiness and success.
$700,000 over two years to support the development of Season 15 of Cyberchase, the longest-running math series for kids ages five through eight. In addition to its show and digital games, Cyberchase plans to expand reach by piloting a YouTube channel and creating self-directed games with increased accessibility, bringing expected reach for Season 15 to 33 million children. WNET, Cyberchase’s home organization, will also use this funding to conduct an independent study to evaluate how Cyberchase mobile-based activities inform STEM learning among low-income families in 2023, and to assess the impact of Cyberchase on children’s STEM knowledge and attitudes in 2024.
A $650,000 disbursement (year three of a three-year pledge) to TalkingPoints, a multilingual two-way communication platform for families and teachers, to support the organization in building research capacity to better understand impact while scaling. Over the course of the three-year grant, which began in 2021, TalkingPoints projects a reach of 9.3 million users, improving attendance and academic outcomes.
$600,000 for year three of a three-year grant to Nurse-Family Partnership, which provides home visiting services to low-income mothers. This grant supports the scaling efforts of Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First through model innovations and increased data capacity, reaching an estimated 139,000 families over the grant term. 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 (year three of three) to support the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s United in Care pilot, which offers an innovative approach to the childcare crisis in New Jersey. United in Care partners licensed child care centers with home-based child care providers in an effort to increase access, affordability, and quality of family childcare services across the state. Family childcare providers benefit from the stability and structure of a center, while families receive scholarships for care, offering economic opportunity and stability for both working parents and early education professionals.
$300,000 to Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY), a long-time grantee, to support scholarships for students attending CTY on-campus programs in the summer of 2023.
$250,000 over six months to support the National Museum of Mathematics, a long-time grantee, to continue to reach a broad public audience and fundraise for ongoing operations.
$198,000 over one year to the New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences at Drew University, a long-time grantee of the Foundation. This grant will offer 60 students a fully in-person summer opportunity aimed at broadening appreciation and knowledge of the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the sciences, as well as future career paths in STEM.
Unlocking Evidence: RESEARCH and FIELD BUILDING
Ecosystem grants are designed to clear the path to scale for our direct impact grantees and strategies.
$6,666,666 over two years to Accelerate, a national initiative that seeks to embed high-impact tutoring and personalized learning in public schools. Accelerate will use the funding to scale high-quality tutoring, tripling the number of students receiving tutoring in public schools over the next five years. Included in this work is identifying evidence-based and cost-effective tutoring providers across K-12 and math and ELA; supporting rigorous research; ensuring states develop strong regulatory frameworks that support the adoption of effective in-school tutoring; and securing federal policies or guidance that will enable the growth of tutoring across the country.
A two-year grant of $1,000,000 to the National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA), a program devoted to translating research on how tutoring can benefit students into action. This grant will strengthen the high-impact tutoring ecosystem by supporting NSSA in disseminating research on what makes tutoring programs effective to state and local education agencies, ensuring that evidence-based tutoring reaches the students who need it most.
A one-year grant of $400,000 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.
$350,000 to Learning Heroes, a nonprofit that focuses on research and advocacy to equip parents to best support their children’s educational and developmental success. This grant will support a public awareness campaign targeting seven markets which aims to increase parental awareness of local learning loss, improve educator capacity to partner with families, and grow the number of children who join summer learning opportunities.
$290,000 over one year to FutureEd, an independent, solution-oriented think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. FutureEd will use the funding to increase adoption of high-impact tutoring by producing and disseminating narrative-style success stories of high-impact tutoring efforts from school districts across the country.
A one-year grant of $250,000 to Cambiar Education to support the Thrive Grant program to invest in scalable tools and models for increasing parent access to and utilization of assessment data. In collaboration with Walton Family Foundation and other funders, the program will award $3 million to organizations and leaders pursuing promising efforts to provide parents and caregivers with easy-to-obtain, meaningful, and actionable information about their child’s K-12 education and development.
$250,000 over one year to the Institute for Child Success to expand use of the IMPACT measures repository (developed by EC PRISM, the Early Childhood Precision, Innovation, and Shared Measurement) to 25,000 early childhood professionals. EC PRISM aims to increase impact and rigor in the early childhood sector through training and tools for improved measurement and use of data.
$250,000 over one year to the National Summer Learning Association, which supports summer learning access for families across the country by providing support and training for communities and programs nationwide, tracking the progress of policy changes and government funding, and identifying key partners and opportunities to expand the summer learning movement. This grant will support the launch of a study on low-income student enrollment in summer learning programs; the expansion of free, family-focused resources on DiscoverSummer.org; and improved measurement and evaluation of DiscoverSummer.org visitors and partner programs. It will also support scaling DiscoverSummer.org to all 50 states.