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How to Apply

We make grants and investments that fit within one of our three strategic priorities, and we are particularly interested in those proposals that focus on implementing systemic reforms to improve postsecondary outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds.

If you believe you have a project which fits within an existing initiative and you meet one of our three strategic priorities, please use the process outlined below to apply. Staff will determine, based on the submitted letter of inquiry, whether a request fits with an existing initiative or falls under our strategically responsive grantmaking.

If you are a for-profit company or a nonprofit with a dedicated revenue stream that is looking for information on our program-related investments, visit the Education Innovation Ventures page to learn more about eligibility.

Grants Eligibility

Eligibility for ECMC Foundation grant funding is determined by the criteria outlined below. In some instances (e.g., Request for Proposal) criteria may be added for specific grant opportunities.

What types of organizations are eligible to receive funding?

  • Nonprofit organizations registered as a U.S. 501(c)(3) or a 509(a)(1), (2) or (3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Government entities
  • Postsecondary institutions and systems or their affiliated and supporting foundations

What types of requests are ineligible for funding?

  • Solicitations from individuals and/or requests for scholarships
  • Appeals to support endowment funds, political activities and lobbying, capital campaigns or fundraising activities
  • Applications from entities or for projects outside the United States (We only make grants in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and to sovereign tribes.)
  • Requests from organizations that operate in ways that are inconsistent with ECMC Foundation’s mission and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

What projects are generally not funded?

  • Efforts to support K-12 students and/or youth development programming, including but not limited to college access, summer bridge and general career preparation
  • Projects impacting a limited number of students, seeking resources for scholarships, or failing to primarily serve students from underserved backgrounds (e.g., students of color, students from low-income households, adult learners)
  • Requests for ongoing program or general operating support
  • Trainings offering industry-recognized credentials with no connection to accredited programs conferring academic credentials 
  • Programs to support adult basic education or help students obtain a General Educational Development (GED) credential or high school equivalency diploma
  • Job placement services or internship programs without a direct connection to postsecondary persistence and degree completion

Grants Submission Process

Letters of Inquiry

ECMC Foundation accepts and reviews Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) via our online system on a rolling basis. All LOIs must demonstrate how the project-based concept fits within one of our three strategic priorities to improve postsecondary persistence and degree completion. (For your convenience you can preview the form template here.)

  • All LOIs must provide the following information.
  • Point of Contact, including the name, title, email address, and phone number of the point of contact at the organization submitting the letter of inquiry.
  • Organization Information, including name, address, website, EIN number, and organization type, budget, and background for the submitting organization.
  • Budget and Timeline, including amount requested from ECMC Foundation, total project budget, and proposed project duration in months.
  • Concept Overview, including project summary and intended goals and anticipated outcomes of the proposed project.
  • Categories and Demographics, including interventions to be employed and populations to be served via the proposed project.
  • Strategic Priorities, including a statement demonstrating how the proposed project aligns to at least one of the three strategic priorities and drives systemic change.  
  • Leadership Composition*, including demographic information about the composition of the board and executive leadership of the submitting organization.

* In an effort to make our grantmaking accessible and equitable, ECMC Foundation is currently examining its own processes and collecting demographic information about the composition of the board and executive leadership of all of our applicants. This reflects our commitment to equity and the knowledge that organizations are enhanced when people from different backgrounds and perspectives are engaged in decision-making. The information you provide will not be used in evaluating your request for funding.


LOIs that most closely reflect ECMC Foundation's strategic priorities will be invited to submit a full grant proposal. Proposals are accepted upon request only. A request for a proposal should not be interpreted as an indication of likely support.

Foundation staff may ask applicants to meet (virtually or in-person) or submit additional information in writing before advancing an LOI to the proposal phase.

Review Process

Please be aware that the full grant proposal process—from first contact to board approval—can take several months. We ask applicants to be mindful of the timeline when beginning the application process.

Submit an LOI to apply for a grant

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Since its inception, ECMC Foundation has targeted its investments in improving postsecondary outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds. We are also committed to supporting leaders, organizations and solutions that prioritize equity. As a result, we have included questions in the application process to help us track metrics around leadership diversity and demographics of participants served.

Monitoring and Reporting

We require that each grantee identify and track unique measures of success, which are defined by the grantee and aligned to the goals of the grant. Annual assessments provide the Foundation with information on a program’s progress toward its targets and goals. Learn more about our approach to learning and evaluation.

Open Access Policy for Research Grants

As the postsecondary field demands more data-driven decision-making and evidence-based policies, it is essential that the research that informs these efforts is reasonably accessible. Providing easier access to published research allows practitioners, policymakers and other researchers to more effectively and efficiently integrate data-informed studies into their work.

As a result, all research funded by ECMC Foundation must be open access. ECMC Foundation defines open access as providing the public with continuous free access to research upon project completion or upon completion of any portion of a larger project. By introducing this policy, the Foundation intends to put research into the hands of those who need access to it the most.

By making research open access, it reduces the number of duplicative studies, increases transparency, allows practitioners and policymakers to affordably access data and information, and inspires collaboration.

Find recent research supported by ECMC Foundation.

Search our Grants & Investments Database

Search all ECMC Foundation grants by focus area, approach, grant year, and geographic area. 

Learn More