Grant Making Approach

Education Forward DC provides funding and strategic support to high-impact leaders in order to reach our ambitious goal of doubling the number of underserved students who are college and career ready. The following are the core beliefs that drive the decisions we make and how we support our grantees:

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    The best ideas are out there, not in here

    We believe in entrepreneurs and leaders with a vision for how to achieve higher-quality and more equitable schools for all students, and the ability to drive impact beyond the reach of their organizations.

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    Schools thrive in a strong ecosystem

    Quality and equitable schools must be supported by a strong, stable DC public education ecosystem. We identify market gaps in the ecosystem by synthesizing information and data from a broad group of sources.

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    Get in early and don’t micromanage

    Entrepreneurs and leaders need nimble, unrestricted seed funding to build innovative institutions. We invest in bold ideas in their earliest stages, providing the runway for organizations to launch and scale, and eventually achieve long-term, catalytic impact.

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    Diversity yields better ideas and results

    The most successful teams include diverse leaders who understand the perspectives and needs of students and have the insight required to develop effective solutions. We prioritize investing in leaders who reflect the diversity of students in DC and have historically received less philanthropic investment.

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    We’re building for the long term health of the city

    The investments we make now must be sustained in the future, through public funding or revenue-generating activities.

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    Money matters, but money alone is often not enough

    We help accelerate our grantees’ work through thought partnership, strategic guidance and connections. We look for places where we can learn from patterns and foster positive, mutually beneficial relationships with our grantees.


Education Forward DC makes grants on a rolling basis, using a thorough diligence process to make decisions. We evaluate all potential grantees against the following set of criteria:

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    Strategic Alignment

    We seek grantees with a mission grounded in transforming education in Washington, DC, with a particular focus on underserved students. The work of grantees should help to further one of our three strategic investment areas.

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    Program Model

    We partner with leaders and organizations developing ambitious ideas and high-quality programs that will dramatically improve student learning in Washington, DC.

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    Leadership Team

    Grantees should be led by mission-driven leaders and boards who demonstrate personal integrity and have a mix of skills to allow them to execute and get results. Our grantees must also demonstrate a strong commitment to diversity, including a commitment to having a leadership team and board that reflects the demographics of the students served.

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    Conditions for Success

    We believe that entrepreneurial leaders need the ability to innovate in order to design solutions that best serve students and maximize their impact, and autonomy to sustain success overtime. Grantees should demonstrate conditions that allow the leadership team the flexibility to make decisions and operate nimbly.

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    Market

    The work of the grantee should present a solution to address a known problem in DC’s education landscape. The grantee should demonstrate demand for and a clear role in the city for their work.

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    Financial Sustainability

    We look for grantees with a clear path to financial sustainability on earned income or public funds when operating at scale.

Do you have a great idea that can help ensure a great education for every student in DC? If so, please tell us!