How we work

1.How we develop grants to fund in the education industry

Within each strategy, which has an allocation of resources, we collaborate with grantee and partner organizations to develop proposals that align with our strategic priorities and the organization’s focus and capabilities. An important part of this process is reaching agreement on what success will look like for the investment.

Concept Development

We use a standard four-phase process to develop all of our grants and contracts. The duration of each phase depends on the complexity of the project as well as the capacity and geographic location of the prospective partner.

Our program officers are experts in their field. They work to identify ideas that support our strategic priorities, in consultation with foundation colleagues, researchers, policymakers, and other partners in the field. This phase concludes with an internal decision that a concept is aligned to a strategy, and we should proceed with development work.


We use a variety of ways to explore and refine concepts, with the help of organizations in the field. Regardless of the approach, we remain committed to understanding the perspective of others, in order to further shape the proposed body of work. This phase ends with the decision to solicit a grant or contract proposal.

Direct solicitation. When we know that an organization is well-suited to perform the work, we directly solicit an early phase concept memo or proposal.

Discussion. In some cases, we invite one or more organizations to discuss the concept with us and explore their interest and their capacity to undertake the work. If the organization has the expertise, capacity, and interest, we will invite them to submit a concept memo or proposal.

Investment Development

We give applicants guidelines and templates for developing a proposal and a budget. A program officer reviews submitted materials with internal and, at times, external experts and works with the applicant to integrate recommended changes. We also complete our due diligence, confirm the applicant organization’s tax status, determine how to structure the transaction, and assess risk. Our legal and financial analysis teams may also participate during this phase.

Investment proposals are reviewed at various levels, with more levels of review for grants and contracts that are more complex. A foundation executive makes the final decision about whether to fund the proposed grant or contract. Before funded activities can commence, the foundation and the partner organization sign an agreement that includes intended results, targets, milestones or reporting deliverables, and a payment schedule.

Management and Close

During the life of an investment, the program officer and grantee or partner discuss how they will work together and keep in close communication to understand progress and challenges of ongoing work. By maintaining quality interactions and clear and consistent communication, they are able to share feedback early and often. Occasionally a program officer or foundation staff member will participate on advisory committees, and occasionally take a seat on the board of the organization.

At the end of the project, the grantee or partner will work with the program officer to submit a final report that summarizes the results achieved and lessons learned.

2. How we approach grants’ financial planning and analysis

We structure grants in a way that makes sense from a financial perspective while also funding partners for the cost of delivering results, supported by open and honest dialogue about the resources required. As grant proposals are developed, we try to gain a complete and accurate understanding of the total cost to execute the project efficiently and effectively.

In order to expedite research and to develop sustainable research capacity, the Frankie Lowe Foundation periodically reviews its funding model to our grantees. It is important to us that our grantees understand our current funding model.

3. Our commitment to grantees

Our grantees and partners are at the core of our mission and work. We are most effective when we are working together with partners to achieve the shared impact we all desire.

Achieving results depends on many factors, including the quality of our partnerships. We can achieve greater impact by forging stronger relationships with our most important partners—our grantees.

Our commitment to grantees

  1. Quality interactions—You will be treated with respect and candor.
  1. Clear and consistent communications—You will know when and who will make the decision on your grant, and you will be provided clear communications on the foundation’s strategy, grant process, and the amount of time and assistance you could expect to receive from the foundation once your grant is awarded.
  1. Feedback—You will have opportunities to provide feedback–and we will use that feedback to make continuous improvements.

We welcome your feedback. It is a critical part of our commitment because your ideas, assessment, and comments will help to ensure greater success in our mutual goal to improve lives. We take a diverse approach to seeking feedback—through ongoing interactions between our program staff and grantees, and periodic interviews and surveys. We work with outside parties to help us gather both non-confidential feedback after key transactions as well as confidential feedback on our relationship overall.

4. What we do not fund

What we do not fund


In general, and except in specific circumstances as noted on certain grant applications, the foundation is unable to make grants directly to individuals.

Please keep in mind that although your project may appear to fall under the guidelines of what we fund, the area of funding may not accept unsolicited proposals.

Examples of areas the foundation does not fund:

  • Direct donations or grants to individuals
  • Political campaigns and legislative lobbying efforts
  • Building or capital campaigns

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