Education & Economic Mobility Guidelines

Below is information explaining the types of projects we fund through our Education & Economic Mobility Program for 2021-2025. For questions, please reach out to [email protected]


The Education & Economic Mobility Program, through the focus areas below, works to increase the number of historically underserved young people who move up the economic ladder by ensuring equitable access to high-quality education and jobs. We invest in local, state and federal policies that ensure historically underserved young people have effective educators, graduate high school with academic and career momentum, and attain college credentials with economic value. We also support policies that help ensure low-wage workers achieve economic stability, dignity, and mobility. In the short term, we will invest in research, policy development, and advocacy to help the education systems recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective Educators

Advance federal, state and district policies to ensure historically underserved students in the Great Lakes region have highly effective, diverse teachers and principals. Efforts include research, policy development, advocacy, and technical assistance to reform teacher preparation, diversify the educator pipeline, build strong pathways from high school into teaching, and overhaul school staffing models to support principals and spread the reach of great teachers. Our investments here are focused on Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota and on national efforts.

College and Career Readiness

Support federal, state and school district policies that ensure historically underserved young people in the Great Lakes region graduate high school ready for college and career success. Efforts include research, policy development, and advocacy to reform dual-credit and remediation policies, expand access to quality work-based learning opportunities, and align K-12, post-secondary and workforce systems.

Post-Secondary Success

Support federal and state policies to close race- and family income-based gaps in college attainment. Efforts include scaling up proven student support models to improve community college outcomes; preserving access for students of color and rural students to affordable, high- quality public college options and to labor markets that require college degrees; seeking racial and family income representativeness at selective public universities; and supporting advocacy, litigation, and policy development to narrow gaps in post-graduate financial outcomes for students of color and low-income students.

Future of Work

Support state and federal policies to help low-wage workers achieve greater economic stability, dignity, and mobility, with a special focus on technology’s role in the workplace and labor market. Specifically, we will support state policy to ensure employees can access public benefits, refundable tax credit policies, and nascent policy development on issues of technology and the labor market.


Which Great Lakes states do you focus your state and local district policy work/investments?

In the K-12 portfolio, we focus mainly on Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota at the state level. At the district level, we focus on Chicago, Indianapolis and Minneapolis. We also fund limited college and career readiness work in Ohio. In the post-secondary success portfolio, we focus on Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan, but will consider select grants in Wisconsin.

Do you fund specific programs aimed at helping young people become economically mobile?

No. In general, our investments are focused along the Joyce grant making continuum, strongly emphasizing research, policy development, advocacy and policy implementation. For example, our Educator Effectiveness portfolio seeks to grow high-quality teacher training routes, such as quality alternative certification and residency models. In this issue, we support state and federal policy development and advocacy aimed at ensuring these routes lead to a diverse and high- quality workforce. We do not fund the teacher training programs, themselves, nor do we fund stipends for teacher candidates in the residency programs.

Are there important education and economic mobility issues that are not addressed by Joyce’s Education & Economic Mobility Program?

  • Yes. With limited resources, we are focused on the challenges described in the program guidelines above. Topics that fall outside our priorities include:
  • Pre-K programs aimed at children birth to five. Our education grant making is focused on policies in the kindergarten through post-secondary space;
  • Scholarships, school voucher programs, and similar programs that primarily benefit individuals. Our focus is on district, state, and federal policy and system change;
  • Capital campaigns directed at improving public schools; and
  • Job training programs. We do not focus investments on efforts to promote employment without some connection to post-secondary education and training.

Do you fund government agencies and programs?

We generally make grants only to nonprofit organizations. However, we occasionally fund government initiatives that promise to lead to school district/statewide system or policy changes.

Do you support efforts to improve diversity within a college or university department?

We focus our higher education investments on state and federal policy rather than faculty or student diversity initiatives within college or university departments.

Do you fund state and federal efforts that seek to make college free or cancel debt?

Our goal is to close race and family income-based gaps in college attainment. We believe some free college proposals are geared more toward this goal than others, and we think that some problems are not fully addressed by many free college plans. Some of these problems include race/income disparities in the student bodies of selective public universities, disparities in the resources at various colleges, and the integration of student success programs that can double graduation rates at community colleges. We consider funding that relates to public policy areas like free college and debt cancellation through this lens.

Does Joyce fund education research?

We focus on applied public policy research. The research must be geared towards informing how district, state or federal policymakers might approach a significant problem. Often, this means researching whether a specific district, state, or federal policy has been—or would be effective— in helping students and/or what might be the unintended consequences of the policy.