Based in Los Angeles, ECMC Foundation is a nationally-focused foundation working to improve higher education for career success among underserved populations through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis, which together work to help students succeed.
In pursuit of system change, the Foundation’s grantmaking and investing are concentrated on the three following strategic priorities: removing barriers to postsecondary completion; building the capacity of institutions, systems and organizations; and transforming the postsecondary ecosystem. The Foundation uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments through Education Innovation Ventures, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Learn more about our approach.
To improve higher education for career success among underserved populations through evidence-based innovation.
The United States has long put its faith in education as the great equalizer, the best way for individuals to change their socioeconomic circumstances and pursue their dreams. As more jobs require at least some education beyond high school, securing a postsecondary credential is even more critical to improving economic mobility. With some estimates suggesting as many as 54% of workers will either have to undergo re-skilling or upskilling to keep pace over the next few years, access to quality education and training opportunities is essential to promoting equity in our evolving workforce.
Yet, many individuals, especially students of color, low-income students, first-generation college students and adult learners face systemic barriers in their pursuit of postsecondary certificates and degrees, impairing their ability to secure jobs with family-sustaining wages and advancement opportunities.
ECMC Foundation's work addresses these challenges. We support organizations and institutions that provide high-quality programs and support to students and learners from underserved backgrounds.
All learners unlock their fullest potential.
We envision a country where all learners—regardless of their socioeconomic background, which neighborhood or zip code they grew up in, or the color of their skin—have access to quality educational and career opportunities and the necessary supports to succeed.
Through the work of our grantees and partners, learners are engaged in educational experiences that are rigorous, hands-on and relevant. Learners are prepared with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed both in postsecondary education and their careers. They are empowered with self-confidence and a belief that they can pursue any educational and career path of their choosing.
Learning is a lifelong practice. Certificates and degrees are essential stepping stones to success, but not the end of the road. As the economy evolves, new jobs emerge and the skill sets that are most in demand shift. Adopting a lifelong learning mindset and drive for continuous career development is essential.
Central to our vision is the idea that everyone has an innate ability to unlock their fullest potential, no matter what educational and career pathway they seek. With the right support and education, all learners—emerging and continuing—have the power to turn aspirations into realities.
To grow our impact through strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, our initiatives represent our commitment to working toward systemic change in or through an area of the postsecondary ecosystem. A number of existing and emerging bodies of work are being deepened and expanded as initiatives, and new opportunities will be identified as the Foundation evolves in its learning. Established initiatives include:
- Basic Needs Initiative
- Career and Technical Education Leadership Collaborative Initiative
- Men of Color Initiative
- Single Mother Student Success Initiative
- Transfer and Credit Mobility Initiative
Strategically Responsive Grantmaking
A key aspect of our approach is a commitment to being aware of and responsive to developments in the field of higher education. As a result, we continue to use an open application process and reserve funding for projects that do not fit within one of our established initiatives but are connected to one or more of our strategic priorities. This allows us to be flexible and adapt as the higher education landscape evolves.
Long-Term Investments: We aim to make long-term investments—either alone or by leveraging the work of other nonprofit, public, private and philanthropic partners—that improve academic achievement among underserved students as they prepare themselves for postsecondary education and fulfilling careers. Visit our Grants & Investments Database
Entrepreneurial: We take risks with our grantmaking dollars, understanding that failure is a natural part of generating discoveries. We support innovation and a willingness to experiment with a bias toward ideas that can be scaled to benefit large numbers of students. Read stories from our partners in our Grantee Spotlights
Research and Reforms: We support important research and reforms that help people prepare for postsecondary success and careers. Read recent Research from the Field
Measurement and Evaluation: We require measurement and evaluation in all that we do and recognize our obligation to share the results of our work to help educate and improve the field, free of charge and available to all. Find out What We’re Learning
In 2000, ECMC Foundation was created as the charitable arm of ECMC Group. For more than 10 years, the Foundation provided millions of dollars in educational scholarships nationwide. Then, in 2014, ECMC Foundation Board of Directors decided to become more strategic in their grantmaking and hired President Peter J. Taylor to lead the organization. The Foundation solidified its strategic grantmaking focus on postsecondary education, specifically in the areas of College Success and Career Readiness, and expanded its investment methods through Education Innovation Ventures in 2018. Five years later, in 2021, the Foundation launched a planning process to create a strategic framework for grantmaking that provides a structure for making impact, with flexibility to adapt as the higher education landscape evolves. In 2023, President Jacob Fraire was appointed to lead the organization. Throughout his first year, Jacob advanced the Foundation's strategic planning process and led the organization to exceed $300 million in grants and investments since inception.
For a comprehensive look at our evolution over the years, read our annual reports.