We prioritize investing in programs that provide a range of integrated, holistic services, set high goals and deliver high supports, thoroughly and accurately assess opportunities for the individuals they serve, and follow through to make sure their impact is lasting.
College Access & Success
College Access & Success
Initiatives to help disadvantaged youth graduate high school, prepare for and get into college, and ultimately obtain a post-secondary credential. This includes academic persistence and support programs, mentoring and life skills development programs, and related youth development areas.
Post-secondary education, training, work-experience, or job placement programs that provide pathways to careers that offer sustaining wages and opportunities for advancement.
Programs that deploy a two-generation approach by working simultaneously with children and parents to promote healthy parenting, prevent child and spouse abuse, build resilient families, and help achieve a level of stability essential to the ultimate attainment of our broader education and employment goals.
Our funding is focused in the three geographic regions where the majority of our family members and staff live and work.
We invest in organizations who focus on serving one or more of the following disadvantaged populations:
- Low-income youth ages 10-26
- Foster youth
- Homeless and formerly homeless
- Young parents
- First-generation college students
- Individuals involved in the justice system
- Individuals who leave school before graduating
We invest in capacity building and knowledge sharing to more completely support our grantees and the communities they serve. We do this by:
- Making multi-year grants to help organizations develop the infrastructure to scale their programs or operations.
- Supporting grantee cohorts in addressing shared needs
- Creating convening opportunities for our grantees to connect and share best practices
In addition to grants awarded through our traditional application process, we also have a discretionary grant program where individual Board members can designate one or two annual grants to organizations that align with their personal passions. Organizations are not eligible to apply for this program.
Scaling Program Infrastructure
STEM Advantage received a $600,000 investment over three years from The Ceres Foundation to scale our program, advance equity through education and employment, and address the racial wealth gap. We mentor, prepare, and inspire women and underserved communities to pursue STEM careers with the vision of building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive skilled workforce. As an all-volunteer group of STEM professionals, we did not have the resources or capacity to grow. We needed a dedicated program team to demonstrate sustainability and scalability to investors. This catalytic gift from Ceres is transformative and enables us to invest in two new positions that will help expand the program (from 175 scholars in its 2022 cohort to 250-300 in 2025). With this critical staff, we will also be able to maintain our high-touch, high-impact comprehensive program model, build best-in-class mentorship and internship programs, and develop strategic partnerships.
Providing Catalytic Investments
For almost two decades, The Ceres Foundation has supported our college preparation programs, which help low-income young mothers, primarily women of color, fall back in love with learning through arts, humanities, and athletics. In 2015, inspired by conversations with Ceres’ leadership and with a catalytic Ceres grant, The Care Center launched Bard Microcollege Holyoke, the nation’s first college for young mothers and low-income women. The Microcollege has been recognized in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Most recently, Ceres made a $1M anchor gift to launch The Care Center’s endowment campaign to permanently sustain Bard Microcollege Holyoke. The Ceres Foundation’s support over the years has allowed us to be creative and bold. It’s helped us expand successful programs, launch new ideas, enhance our supports for young mothers, and weather difficult periods. With funding from Ceres, we created a nationally recognized college preparation program for young mothers and launched a groundbreaking new college model. Through its endowment gift, Ceres is helping ensure the Microcollege remains a permanent community resource.
Supporting Continuous Improvement
For many years, The Ceres Foundation supported Mentors Inc., an organization that provided mentoring support to middle and high school students with the goal of increasing Washington, DC graduation rates. Kid Power acquired Mentors Inc. in 2019 with the vision to offer a comprehensive whole-child approach to serving youth. We’ve been incredibly honored to continue to receive Ceres funding in addition to strategic conversations to improve mentoring programs in the District. Historically, Ceres Foundation investments provided critical support, contributing to high school graduation rates of 90-100% for program participants. Most recently, Ceres funding enabled Kid Power to align our program with the National Quality Mentoring System’s standards and procedures of a high-quality mentoring program. Specifically, we’ve created new mentor recruitment and training strategies, evaluation protocols, a data management system, and better recruitment and support systems. Finally, Ceres funding has allowed us to hire additional staff to expand capacity as we seek to scale our program. With these enhancements, we’ve been able to leverage support to help us continue to grow and impact more DC proteges.
Seeding Growth and Innovation
The Ceres Foundation has been one of the earliest and strongest supporters of Thrive Scholars, almost since its inception as South Central Scholars. Grants from Ceres over the last 20 years (totaling nearly $3M) have been integral in our organization’s evolution from a small LA focused organization to a national entity poised to serve nearly 1,000 Scholars in 2022. The Ceres Foundation’s most recent commitment of $1M over five years helped propel our national growth strategy, which established a stronger presence throughout the country. The foundation’s ongoing philanthropic commitment allows staff to remain nimble and innovative in addressing Scholars’ changing needs. Most recently, support from Ceres enabled the roll-out of our Career Development program. Thrive now provides a four-year career curriculum (including two years of personalized career coaching), access to a professional network, and internships and jobs at our corporate partners. Thrive recently added industry-focused tracks for Scholars interested in pursuing STEM, Finance, Consulting, and Law careers.