Top U.S. Foundations Investing in Education


Top U.S. Foundations Investing in EducationCorporate responsibility has been a motif in the news and media over the recent years.  Organizations expanding their horizons to benefit the communities they reside in have become increasingly popular. Many have specific focuses, with one of the most common being education and scholarships. Below are some leaders in this area of corporate philanthropy:

Starbucks Foundation

Similar to how the front-runner in American coffee consumerism itself was founded; the Starbucks Foundation began small, funding literacy programs in the United States and Canada in 1997. Today, the foundation prides itself on supporting several different endeavors, including youth leadership, social development, employee community service, water sanitation, and supporting coffee, tea and cocoa communities. Since the foundation launched the Youth Leadership Program in 2008, they have exceeded their goals, each year, in support of youth pursuing leadership roles in responsible businesses and nonprofits. Through this foundation and other ventures, Starbucks is one of the leading companies in social responsibility.

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Mike Bloomberg’s dedication to philanthropy has been admirable since his first $5 endowment to his school right after graduation. Focusing on five main areas—public health, arts, the environment, education and government innovation—Bloomberg’s donations have not only totaled in excess of $2.4 billion, but they have also included his own personal involvement. He has served as chairman of the board of trustees to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins, and given an endowment to develop the school’s public health department, the largest one in the U.S.

The Dart Foundation

Since its inception in the 1980’s, the Dart Foundation (http://www.dartfoundation.org/) has placed an emphasis on education, bestowing over $56 million to educational and other philanthropic causes. With a mission to increase and inspire youth education, the Dart Foundation focuses greatly on the promotion of STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—education in public schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. In addition to its efforts in youth education, the foundation funds projects that work to improve the quality of life in a number of different communities. Last year, the Greater Lansing Business Monthly recognized the Dart Foundation as the 2013 Social Responsibility Organization of the year.

Kresge Foundation

Beyond community development, human services, health in their home base of Detroit, the Kresge Foundation plays a pivotal role in increasing the number of college graduates throughout the U.S. They understand the strong correlation between educational attainment and economic well-being and concentrate on opportunities to support areas in Arkansas, Texas, Michigan and southern California, as well as South Africa. The organization places a strong emphasis on increasing college enrollment of minority and low-income students, and improving energy efficiency at several minority-serving institutions.

Investing in our Future Leaders

Throughout the world, education serves as a superior tool when it comes to creating positive change in society. Acquiring new knowledge, interactions and skills are the primary purposes of education that shape the development of our future leaders.

Major philanthropic organizations, such as the Dart Foundation http://www.dartfoundation.org/, heavily contribute to the growth and encouragement of education as they understand the important role it plays in our everyday lives. Located in Mason, Michigan, the Dart Foundation was started in 1984 by William and Claire Dart with a focus on investing in youth education and improving quality of life.

Cultivating the Future

The founders of the Dart Foundation understood the importance and need for technological growth and development. The Dart family embraced the science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) connection and viewed it as a bridge to the future. These visionaries stressed that education was the vehicle transporting youth from their present positions to the pinnacles of their futures.

Putting action to this belief, they set the standard for the Dart Foundation. It has invested in the Ingham Intermediate School District; Hope Scholarship programs, Michigan State University and created the Minds Inspired Scholarship and Minds Inspired William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship.

As mentioned, William and Claire Dart valued the realm of science. Thus the Dart Foundation has continued in that sphere and donated to enrich programs like the Michigan Science Olympiad and the Impression 5 Science Center.

However, possessing the knowledge that education is a heart and mind connection, the Dart Foundation has funded programs that contribute in other realms as well. The American Red Cross, Volunteers of America, the Michigan Environmental Council, and Highfields are all recipients of the Dart Foundation’s generosity.

Family Ties

Currently, Ken Dart, the son of William and Claire Dart, is on the Board of Directors of the foundation. As he honors and propagates the legacy of his parents, he enriches the lives of many others. Teaming up with the Columbia School of Journalism, Ken Dart developed the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma; which offers assistance to journalists that cover pugnacious catastrophes throughout the world.

Ken Dart and the Dart Foundation have found a need and are generously filling it. Through the organization’s charitable work, lives are being enriched and uplifted. In recognition of its efforts, the Dart Foundation was named the 2013 Greater Lansing Business Monthly’s Social Responsibility Organization of the Year.

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