Joyce Program Education
Closing income and race disparities in college and career success through equitable access to high-quality education and jobs.
The information on this page has been updated to reflect our 2021-2025 grant making approach.

Data continue to show that a post-secondary credential is the best way to ensure economic mobility, yet not enough young people earn them. Joyce is committed to evidence-based policies that help close race and income disparities in post-secondary attainment. To that end, we will advance policies to ensure young people of color and those in marginalized communities have effective, diverse K-12 educators, and smooth pathways from high school through college and into the workforce. We also will invest in emerging concepts about how safety net and workforce development programs can adapt to a changing economic landscape.

Coronavirus Response

The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shutter in early 2020. The move to remote/hybrid learning left schools, educators and families scrambling to build rich learning environments for young people. But students suffered academically, socially and emotionally. School closures also forced policymakers to waive many K–12 policies, including annual assessments, accountability, and teacher licensure. In the post-COVID recovery, Joyce will seek opportunities to help students regain lost ground, rebuild more equity-focused policies, and support research into the successes and/or failures of remote learning.

Get updates on our work in Education & Economic Mobility and other programs

Effective Educators

Research is clear that an excellent, diverse educator workforce boosts students’ academic and post-secondary outcomes, improves social and emotional development, and increases earnings later in life. Unfortunately, students of color and students in marginalized communities are the least likely to have fully licensed, effective, and diverse educators. Educators also are not prepared for the complex classrooms they face, and schools continue to employ antiquated staffing models that overburden principals and stunt the reach of the best teachers. The Foundation supports efforts to advance federal, state, and district policies that ensure a strong pipeline of highly trained, diverse and talented educators, as well as schools staffed for success.

The Foundation's educator quality investments will focus on Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis and on state policies in Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. But we also will support national and federal educator effectiveness policy reforms.

Goal

Advance federal, state and district policies to ensure students of color and students in marginalized communities in the Great Lakes region have highly effective, diverse teachers and principals.


Objectives

College and Career Readiness

There is overwhelming evidence that a post-secondary credential significantly improves earning potential. But not enough young people from historically underserved neighborhoods earn them. There are many obstacles. The pathway from K–12 through post-secondary and into the workforce is not aligned. And students do not have equal opportunity to earn college credits and valuable work-based learning experiences in high school. The Joyce Foundation seeks to help underserved K-12 students prepare for college and career success by supporting policies that ensure they have access to high-quality college in high school courses and work-based learning opportunities. We also support policies that ensure K-12, post-secondary and workforce systems are aligned. The Foundation's College and Career Readiness investments will focus on Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. But we will also fund national and federal efforts.

Goal

Support federal, state and district policies that ensure students of color and students in marginalized communities in the Great Lakes region graduate high school prepared to succeed in college and careers.


Objectives

Post-secondary Success

A college education has become ever more essential to getting a stable job with good wages. But decades of success in getting more students of color and students from marginalized communities into college has not translated into more equitable college attainment. Race and family wealth are ever more predictive of who will get a college degree - suggesting that we are moving further away from equalizing college opportunity. Worse still, post-graduate salaries and debt repayment outcomes are deeply inequitable, especially by race. The median Black student owes more on student loans than they borrowed twelve years after enrollment. It appears likely that a subset of colleges, especially in the for-profit sector, are leaving students worse off than if they had avoided higher education altogether. The Foundation supports research, public policy development, and advocacy on how our nation’s higher education system can increase economic mobility and racial equity in the Great Lakes region. Removing barriers to college attainment for students of color and students from marginalized communities is essential to keeping our nation, states, and cities economically competitive.

Goal

Eliminate race- and family income-based gaps in baccalaureate college attainment and post-graduate outcomes through state and federal policy, ensuring fair access to higher education for all students.


Objectives

Future of Work

Over the past two decades, the labor market has changed. It has added low-wage jobs that do not offer economic stability or mobility, and undercut worker dignity. A subset of “gig” jobs employ millions but do not offer basic employment and safety net protections. State and federal policymakers need to take stock of how new technologies are affecting economic stability and mobility for low-wage workers. The Foundation seeks to fund applied policy research on how to improve economic stability and mobility for low-wage workers, including “gig” workers. The Foundation also seeks to support applied policy research and advocacy about how state and federal policymakers can ensure economic mobility, stability, and dignity for low-wage workers.

Goal

Improve economic stability, safety, and dignity for low-wage workers through state and federal policy.


What We Fund

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

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How To Apply

Learn about our submission process for applying for a grant.

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Our Research & Reports

Explore our research and reports on Education. 

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