Foundation grantmaking trends in literacy education, 1980--1989

Rebecca Johnston Taylor, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze foundation grantmaking trends in literacy education in general in the United States, and more specifically in one urban center, New York City, during the decade of the 1980s. A representative picture of national trends was obtained through an analysis of 180,270 grants recorded in the Foundation Center Grants Indexes. In addition, an in-depth analysis of the grantmaking practices, processes, and patterns of five foundations in New York City was conducted through an examination of historical records and structured interviews. The findings indicate that there was substantial growth in foundation funding for literacy projects during the 1980s. However, even with the growth, funding for literacy never claimed even 1% of the total amount allocated by foundations across all fields of giving. Thus, literacy education was not a major area of interest for most foundations during the 1980s and foundations did not play a significant role in this field. Nationally the trends in grantmaking for literacy were toward awarding educational support agencies small grants of less than $25,000 for program development or general support. The largest portion of grants and grant dollars was directed toward literacy projects for adults. In New York City there was a pattern of small grants of $25,000 or less awarded to educational support agencies for general operating support. Most of the grants were targeted toward literacy programs for Black and Latino adults and supported the use of transactional methods of instruction. In general, the decision-making style employed by the foundations was that of responding to ideas presented to them by applicants relying on grantees to conduct the project management and evaluation process. The foundations provided both sustenance and change grants and maintained support for a number of years rather than on a one-time-only basis.

Subject Area

Education|Language|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Taylor, Rebecca Johnston, "Foundation grantmaking trends in literacy education, 1980--1989" (1994). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9511227.