Major Foundations Changing their Funding Priorities for Higher Education!

Students out side a closed college

Dear Commons Community,

Goldie Blumenstyk has an article in this morning’s Chronicle of Higher Education based on interviews she conducted with representatives of six of the largest foundations that make grants to colleges and universities. Her focus is on grantmakers who see higher education suddenly facing a new reality. In less than a month, just about all of face-to-face higher education moved to remote operations. The American economy shifted from near full employment to a spiral that could end up exceeding the joblessness levels of the Great Depression. And of course our country — and most of the world — is still struggling to meet the growing medical needs of far too many.  Here is an excerpt.

“As colleges and universities have struggled to devise policies to respond to the quickly evolving situation, here are links to The Chronicle’s key coverage of how this worldwide health crisis is affecting campuses.

Even as the ground continues to move, several of the biggest philanthropic influencers are already shifting gears. This past week I spoke to leaders of six of the biggest higher-education grantmaking organizations, who collectively account for some $370 million annually in grants to hundreds of colleges, associations, and other organizations.

Each had a slightly different take but these are three of their biggest priorities for giving across the board:

  • Efforts to get more emergency aid directly into the hands of students in financial need right now.
  • Organizations that can help facilitate quality online learning as well as access to it.
  • Academic services for populations of students who were already at a disadvantage in getting to and through college, and will now be even more affected by the economic turmoil.

The grantmakers also raised concerns about the needs of students and families not met by the three federal stimulus packages, the value in building more capacity for holistic crisis planning, and the ramifications of the economic upheaval that has already begun to roil most colleges — and close some of them.

The six leaders I spoke with oversee postsecondary philanthropy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ascendium Education Group, the Lumina Foundation, the ECMC Foundation, the Strada Education Network, and the Kresge Foundation.”

The entire article is worth a read for administrators throughout the higher education community.  We are going to need these foundations.


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