PHOTO: JACOB LUND/SHUTTERSTOCK

PHOTO: JACOB LUND/SHUTTERSTOCK

With a name like the “College Futures Foundation,” you can pretty much guess what this funder focuses on and supports—and you’d be right. But what you might not know is where the College Futures Foundation (CFF) directs its grantmaking and how it accepts grant proposals.

To fill in those gaps, here are a few important things to know about the College Futures Foundation in the Bay Area of California.

CFF’s Strategy has Three Parts

To achieve its mission of creating more graduates for a thriving California, a few years ago CFF revamped its strategy to include three essential elements. This strategic framework has been in place since 2018.

One of these elements is student-centric practices, which involves helping K-12 and public higher education schools ensure smooth transitions between education segments and expand advising capacity to support students. Another strategic element is leadership: CFF approaches this challenge through funding for coordination efforts, student-centered reforms, and policy and advocacy support. The third part of CFF’s strategy is finance and affordability, which aims to make higher education more affordable and accessible to students.

It’s All About Equity

Like so many funders these days, CFF is all about equity in its mission and approach to grantmaking. It looks to close equity gaps so that all California students can pursue an education regardless of where they live, how much money their families make, or the color of their skin.

CFF points out that while a majority of K-12 students in California are of color and low-income, these students are a minority among graduates from public universities in the state. This puts them at a real disadvantage in the job market: the foundation estimates that around 65 percent of all jobs will require at least some college education as soon as next year.

CFF has a Local and Statewide Focus

CFF is based in Oakland, California, and consequently, much of the foundation’s grantmaking stays in the Bay Area region. However, it is important to remember that this is a statewide funder that pays attention to higher education needs throughout the entire state.

Based on the funder’s online grants database, the majority of grants have a statewide impact overall. Meanwhile, at least 29 grants are Bay Area-specific, with 62 grants for Los Angeles, 52 grants for the San Joaquin Valley, and 39 grants for the Inland Empire. Other, smaller regions of focus include the Central Coast, South Coast and border, the far north, Sacramento Metro, and the Sierras.

Unsolicited Grant Requests are Unwelcome

Unfortunately for first-time grantseekers, CFF does not currently accept unsolicited grant requests; funding is on an invitation-only basis. The staff conducts its own research to find promising leaders and organizations and then identifies potential partners to invite to submit proposals. Recent CFF support has gone to the Riverside Community College District, Teagle Curriculum Design, and Humboldt State University professors for leadership awards.

Read more about CFF’s giving and learn about the key staff members to know in IP’s Bay Area and NorCal funder profile.

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