Education

Please note: If you plan to apply for a grant in our Education program area, please schedule a 15-minute meeting with our program officer, Gina Evans, to discuss your proposal. We have a very high volume of applications and are testing this approach to see if it saves time for you and for our staff. Thank you! Click here to schedule a meeting

The McElhattan Foundation believes that learning - about oneself and the world around us - is at the core of human life. After all, we learn throughout our entire lives, and in many different settings from school to home and everything in between. Learning brings joy, frustration, resilience, understanding, and purpose to our lives. Unfortunately, many in our region, specifically children living in poverty and children of color, do not have equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities. There are complex and systemic issues of racial and economic injustice at work. To address these issues, our grantmaking is focused on high-need, high-impact areas. Through careful consideration of evidence and urgency, we make grants to support out-of-school time learning and innovative approaches to expand educator diversity

Out-of-school-time (OST) Learning 
Research shows that interest-driven experiences in OST settings are key to unlocking the critical learning and life skills that help children to flourish. Because learning does not stop when the school day ends, we support high-quality afterschool, summer, and other informal learning experiences that take place outside the classroom. We fund hands-on learning experiences where youth can connect to positive adult mentors, feel safe to try new things, and have the opportunity to hone new skills. Through our funding, we work to strengthen and expand OST learning in the Pittsburgh region to ensure equitable access for all children.

We prioritize funding for programs that:

  • primarily serve children living in poverty and/or children of color; 
  • are community-based, rather than operated by schools; 
  • primarily serve children in grades K-8; and 
  • operate with dependable consistency and high frequency.

We are particularly interested in funding organizations that demonstrate a commitment to implementing critical quality standards, including:  

  • social-emotional learning and skill development;
  • positive relationship development among youth and with trusted adult mentors;
  • youth-centered approaches that help individuals build on their strengths and talents; and 
  • strong partnerships with families and schools.

The McElhattan Foundation aims to provide flexible support to grant recipients in the OST area and will direct the majority of our giving through general operating grants. We also will prioritize organizations with annual operating budgets of $10 million or less.

To apply for support in our out-of-school-time learning area, please review our application process  and take a look at our frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, please email us at info@mcelhattan.org

Expanding Educator Diversity
We believe that excellent teachers and leaders are key to unlocking powerful learning experiences. Research shows that all students thrive when their educators are racially and ethnically diverse. This is especially true for students of color. The presence of teachers of color contributes to positive academic and non-academic outcomes (reduced absenteeism, increased admission to gifted programs, reduced dropout rates, and increased likelihood to enroll in four-year college) for students of color. 

However, while students of color account for 33% of learners in the Pittsburgh region, the overwhelming majority of educators in Allegheny County - 96% - are white. This lack of diversity contributes to the racial achievement gap and hinders the learning outcomes of our region's children. It also plays a part in disincentivizing youth of color from pursuing careers in teaching.  

While our goal is clear - to increase the number of educators of color in our region - we understand the complexity of the challenge we face in achieving this goal. We recognize that the current lack of educator diversity is a problem exacerbated by a history of systemic racism that shows up in policies, curricula, and culture. As we invest in this focus area, we seek to support and learn from leaders of color and organizations with a demonstrated commitment to accelerating equity in learning spaces in Allegheny County. We remain open to implementing a variety of short- and long-term strategies to achieve our goal.

Recent McElhattan Foundation grants focused on expanding educator diversity include The Practices of Freedom: A Model for Transformative Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education and The Power of One project at Carlow University. 

At this time, applications for funding in this area are being accepted by invitation only. To discuss the Foundation's expanding educator diversity strategy, please set up a call with our education program officer, Gina Evans. If you have additional questions, please e-mail us at info@mcelhattan.org.