Corporate Foundations

There are many types of foundations–community, private, operating, and corporate, to name the big ones. The differences are based on a number of factors: Internal Revenue Service regulations, where the foundation money came from, and what the foundation money will be used for.

Comprehending the differences can be confusing, but one type of foundation that is relatively easy to understand is the corporate foundation.

Find Corporate Grants

First of all, what is a foundation?

It is an organization established to provide funding or support to particular activities. Corporate foundations are created by existing for-profit companies and usually act as independent organizations. The corporations may establish these foundations through ongoing contributions or sizable endowments.

Generally, a corporate foundation will support those activities that complement the goals of the profit-making company with which it is associated. That makes math and science education great fields for those seeking grants in the corporate world.

The number of corporations dependent on a math- and science-literate public is very high. After all, those companies will need well-prepared employees and well-informed consumers.

Not to mention that the people who serve in these corporate environments have succeeded as a result of their own backgrounds in mathematics and science!

Companies That Give

Almost any big company you can name has some kind of granting or funding program. Most technology companies have their own foundations or education grant programs-think computer hardware (Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard), components (Intel), software (Microsoft, Adobe), network computing (Sun, Cisco Systems), wiring and telecommunications (MCI Worldcom, Bell Atlantic).

And that’s just part of the technology world! Many companies, especially those that create and sell hardware, have equipment-granting programs. So don’t just think about dollars and cents–donated hardware and software may take you a long way in implementing your improvement efforts.

Both science and mathematics education benefit from science-oriented companies, from pharmaceuticals and medical research (Genentech, Pfizer) to energy and natural resources (Exxon, BP) to chemicals (Dow, Monsanto).

The list of companies that fund programs for education is almost limitless–car manufacturers, department stores, banks, insurance companies, publishers. You will have to do some searching to see exactly what programs these companies are willing to support, but chances are you will find a match for the math, science, technology, or professional development project you want to get started.

If you know of a company you would like to explore on your own, visit the corporate Web page and look for their giving programs. Usually that information is under corporate information, in a community or outreach area, or in an education portion of the site. But you don’t have to know what company to go to–there are sources that can help you in your search for an appropriate program.

Locating Corporate Grants

Public libraries have volumes of information to help, along with reference assistance. If you have access to the World Wide Web, you can do a lot of your research online. The first and best place to start your search online is the Foundation Center. Established in 1956, the Foundation Center is an independent nonprofit clearinghouse for information about foundations, corporate giving, and related subjects.

The Foundation Center’s Web page lists hundreds of foundations of all types, with application procedures and links to foundation Web sites. A simple search engine makes narrowing down the choices fairly simple–you will be amazed at the number of programs offering money or equipment for math and science education.

The general public can also visit Foundation Center libraries in New York, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Atlanta, and San Francisco for assistance in using their publications and other philanthropy-related materials.

The Center offers workshops on proposal writing for a cost and free orientations to their materials at the Center libraries. In addition to the physical locations and the Web site, the Foundation Center also publishes directories and the Guide to Proposal Writing. Their database of foundation information is also available on CD-ROM.

The Foundation Center
79 Fifth Avenue/16th Street
New York, NY 10003-3076
(212) 620-4230 or (800) 424-9836
Fax: (212) 807-3677

Specific Requirements

Each corporate foundation funds specific programs meeting well-defined criteria. For example, many corporations establish programs for the communities where they are located. The criteria will most likely specify who can receive the grants–either individuals or districts or perhaps collaborations between universities and schools.

Before you decide to pursue a particular grant, read through all of the application information to determine if you and your project are eligible. In some cases, individuals might turn to corporate-sponsored contests or awards.

Sample Corporate Foundations Grant Programs

So what kinds of programs do corporate foundations fund? Just a few examples are listed below. See the corporate Web pages for more information about these and other programs.

Hewlett Packard
HP’s U.S. National Grants program focuses on K-12 education, particularly math and science education. HP works to give all students, including women and minorities, opportunities to succeed in school. Their funded programs emphasize professional enhancement and curriculum development. In one recently funded program, the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena received $72,000 worth of HP equipment to create seven computer-equipped labs in the Pasadena Unified School District middle and high schools. The new computer labs will be used in teaching inquiry-based science content modules.

Exxon’s Education Foundation funds both mathematics and science initiatives. During the past decade, the K-3 Mathematics Specialist Program has awarded 272 grants to ninety school districts. Projects emphasize the professional development of teachers. This foundation also awards grants to NCTM to provide a network of support for project teachers.

Pfizer emphasizes mathematics and science in its education programs. One project, Hands-On/Minds-On: Science & Math Training and Curricula, was created to improve inquiry-based math and science education through professional development and curriculum use and development. Other programs fund informal science institutions and the integration of technology in science and mathematics.