Joyce Program Education

All students should graduate high school ready to succeed in college, the workforce and life.

More than half of public school students either drop out of high school or graduate ill-prepared for the demands of college and the workforce. This is especially true for low-income and minority children, who often enter school far behind their peers and consistently land in classrooms with the least effective teachers. By supporting research, innovative policies and advocacy, the Education Program works to ensure that all students – especially children of color and those who grow up in poverty – arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed and have high-quality educators throughout their preschool through 12th grade education. Click here to learn about our program history.

Get updates on our work in Education and other programs

Teacher Quality

Research clearly proves that excellent teachers are the main in-school determinant of student success, but too few students have access to top-notch educators. This is especially true for children of color and children who grow up in poverty, who often have the least effective teachers. It is important, therefore, to develop policies that help attract high-caliber candidates into the profession and ensure they are properly trained before entering pre-K–12th grade classrooms. It is also important to guarantee they receive meaningful evaluations and get the support and career opportunities they need to be successful once in the classroom.


Support efforts to improve federal, state, and district policies to ensure that students – especially in high-need schools in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis – have teachers who are highly trained, properly evaluated, and well supported.


Fund research to better understand the skills teachers need to be successful succeed when they enter the classroom; fund policy development and advocacy to promote better data systems to assess teacher preparation program quality; advocate for stronger partnerships between school districts and teacher training programs; and support innovative programs and spread high-quality practices.

Fund research, policy development, and advocacy to help refine teacher evaluations – especially in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis – to ensure that new systems produce data accurately measuring effectiveness and helping guide supports for teachers. Advance policies ensuring that children who grow up in low-income communities do not have a disproportionate share of ineffective teachers.

Support research and policy development to help transform teaching into a profession that attracts and keeps the brightest minds, by ensuring teachers have career pathways and clear guidance for improvement.

Kindergarten Readiness

Research shows low-income children often enter kindergarten dramatically behind their wealthier peers – academically, socially and emotionally. These children are most at risk because their parents often lack access to high-quality academic resources and because many of these children land in preschool classrooms with ineffective teachers. The Joyce Foundation supports research to help understand how to engage families in the educational process, and supports policy and advocacy to ensure our youngest learners have skilled educators.


To ensure that all children, especially children of color and from low-income families are academically and developmentally ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten.


Strengthen policies to ensure early childhood teacher preparation and professional development programs train teachers to foster the social, emotional and cognitive development of young children.

Reform federal, state and local policy to ensure professional development money is targeted toward high-impact training and coaching for preschool teachers.

Provide seed funding to help launch innovative, technology-driven family engagement efforts and fund research to determine if they work.

Help coalesce the field around a national research and advocacy agenda that helps spread effective digital tools for family engagement.

Explore policies to spread promising family engagement initiatives that lead to better academic outcomes for children.

Joint Fund

Learn more about our Joint Fund for Education and Employment here.

What We Fund

We focus on initiatives that make an impact on the Great Lakes region.

Learn more

How To Apply

Learn about our submission process for applying for a grant.

Learn more

Our Research & Reports

Explore our research and reports on Education. 

Learn More

Related Content



Ensuring High-Quality Teacher Talent

Read More



Inequitable Distribution of Teachers

Read More



It Takes a City to Nurture Scholars at Sullivan High School

Read More

View More