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The Joyce Foundation Awards $17.5 Million in Grants


AUGUST 8, 2018

CHICAGO – With race and income gaps in higher education wider by some measures than they were 40 years ago, the Joyce Foundation is increasing its support for policies to expand opportunities for African American and Latino students to earn a college degree. Ten new higher education grants are among 83 awards totaling $17.5 million in the foundation’s latest round of grant making.

Other grants announced today aim to bring more community voices into environmental policy making, add to the body of research on gun violence, protect and expand voting rights, and spur more career opportunities in the arts for people of color.

Thirty-six percent of the grantees in this cycle are new to Joyce, marking further progress in adding new partners and voices as the foundation continues its transition to a strategic focus on racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

Race- and income-based inequities in higher education have widened, especially at public colleges and universities, as declining state aid has led to hikes in tuition and fees that put a greater financial burden on students. Young white adults are twice as likely as young Latino and African American adults to hold a bachelor’s degree – a bigger percentage point gap than in 1980. If racial equity is measured by whether top public colleges and universities reflect the racial composition of graduating high school classes in their states, the nation is also further from that goal than in 1980.

The new higher education grants include a two-year, $200,000 award to the Partnership for College Completion, which will advocate for increased affordability and equity in Illinois higher education policy. Policy Matters Ohio (two years, $200,000) will support policies that increase access and graduation for students of color and low-income students. And HCM Strategies (three years, $750,000) will work to improve transfer rates from two- to four-year institutions in Minnesota as part of a national effort in this area. Three grants will go to student-led advocacy groups to help ensure the next generation’s voice is represented in higher education policy conversations.

The following are among other grants announced today:

Education & Economic Mobility: $6.4 million (26 grants)
In addition to its higher education focus, the Education and Economic Mobility Program works to ensure equitable access to high-quality education and jobs through support for policies in educator quality and pathways for smoother transitions from high school to college.

In educator quality, Deans for Impact was awarded a two-year, $650,000 grant to advance national teacher preparation policy reforms and launch the Illinois Ed Prep Impact Network. The Center for American Progress received a one-year, $150,000 grant to support Joyce grantee advocates in Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois. The New Teacher Project Inc. (TNTP) was awarded a $25,000 planning grant to investigate the possibility of an alternative teacher certification program in Minnesota.

Helping high school students build early college momentum through rigorous, college-level coursework has been shown to significantly increase college access, affordability and completion for students underrepresented in higher education. Knowledge Works (two years, $600,000) will support a coalition of advocacy groups launching a national policy campaign to expand early college opportunities for low-income high school students and students of color.

Environment: $4.7 million (18 grants)
The Environment Program supports policies to achieve two critical long-term goals in the Great Lakes region: fighting climate change by accelerating the transition to clean energy systems, and working to ensure the next generation will have clean water from lake to tap.

Climate grants focus on state energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, and on accelerating adoption of electric vehicles and transportation systems. Clean Fuels Ohio (one year, $100,000) will engage regulators, policy makers, and community leaders in exploring how electric vehicle technologies can meet Ohio’s needs. Faith in Place (two years, $300,000) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (two years, $900,000) will work to ensure full implementation of Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act, including provisions on job training and job creation in the renewable energy sector.

The Midwest Environmental Justice Network (one year, $75,000) will draw more people into environmental policy making from communities directly affected by climate change and inadequate access to safe, clean water. The Ohio Environmental Council (two years, $550,000) also will focus on both energy and water issues, including stronger actions to fight toxic algae in Lake Erie.

Joyce awarded six grants for work on safe and affordable drinking water. Elevate Energy (one year, $100,000) will work on improving policies to reduce lead in drinking water in schools, childcare centers and private homes in Illinois. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center ($60,000, two years) is working on a system that will allow citizen organizations to monitor water systems in Michigan for compliance with state standards.

And Freshwater Future (one year, $75,000) will help community organizations in Michigan play a greater role in state policymaking on issues such as lead contamination in drinking water and financing new water infrastructure.

Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program: $2.8 million (12 grants)
The Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program works to build safe and just communities by supporting policies to reduce gun violence and create a more fair and equitable criminal justice system. The program works in three policy areas: reducing gun violence in all its forms through research, education and advocacy; establishing police-community trust and legitimacy; and reducing incarceration of young people.

Three grants were awarded to major university research teams to study the impact of state gun laws, use of firearms in youth and intimate partner violence, and interventions that might prevent gun suicides. Duke University (three years, $374,000) will study the impact of laws setting a minimum age for firearm possession. Johns Hopkins University (three years, $407,000) will study the impact of state concealed weapons laws. And a team of Northeastern University and Harvard University researchers (two years, $540,000) will study gun violence involving youth, intimate partners, police, and suicide.

Northwestern University (two years, $307,000) will evaluate police-community engagement and street outreach and violence interruption efforts in Chicago. Mikva Challenge (one year, $100,000) will continue its youth council to advise the Chicago Police Department and integrate youth voice in community policing practices. A grant to the Fund for the City of New York (six months, $25,000) will support the Center for Court Innovation in organizing a fall 2018 convening of judicial leaders to explore justice system reforms.

Democracy Program: $2.1 million (14 grants)
The Joyce Democracy Program supports an informed, engaged, and representative democracy through fair elections and public-interest journalism. The latest round of grants includes support for the Common Cause Education Fund (two years, $600,000) in its work across Joyce’s six-state region to protect and expand voting rights, advocate for redistricting reform and seek an accurate count in the 2020 Census. A project housed at the New Venture Fund (one year, $50,000) will support emergency litigation and research related to the late addition of an untested citizenship question to the census. Grants to three Wisconsin organizations in that key battleground state – League of Women Voters of Wisconsin (two years, $130,000), Wisconsin Voices (two years, $150,000), and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (one year, $60,000) will support their collaborative work to pursue redistricting reform, defend against voting restrictions and promote increased access to the ballot.

Culture Program: $1.4 million, (12 grants)
The Joyce Culture Program strengthens the role of artists and arts organizations in building culturally relevant, vibrant and sustainable communities through a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Recent grants include ones expected to increase career opportunities in the arts for people of color. A two-year, $200,000 grant to Americans for the Arts supports development of the first arts leadership program in the Great Lakes preparing mid-level arts administrators for executive management.

And a two-year, $200,000 grant was awarded to Chicago Theatre Group (Goodman Theatre) to increase racial equity in its artistic, administrative, and technical departments. The grant will test a new model for recruiting and training adults with low education and income levels for technical production jobs such as set and lighting design, production carpentry, sound engineering, and costumes and wardrobe. Many of these jobs do not require postsecondary degrees.

The Culture Program also looks for ways to broaden arts access and participation. To help meet the need for affordable arts access on Chicago’s South Side, Joyce awarded a two-year, $150,000 grant to the Hyde Park Arts Center to develop a tuition-free, arts instruction program.

Bill Strong,, 312-782-2464
Kayce Ataiyero,, 312-782-2464