By November, 2016, the Board had awarded more than 2,100 grants approximating $118,000,000 since its inception in 1957. It should be noted that no attempt has been made to emphasize any one aspect of independent secondary school work.
The Board has been open to the variety of needs and priorities presented to it by schools. It has supported many areas including capital projects, curriculum, professional development and financial aid as well as special programs pertaining to the environment, technology and pluralism. Just as it has been open to variety in the focus of proposals, the Foundation does not favor any particular type of school.
Over the years the Foundation has made many grants in support of endowment. There is no question of the importance of a strong and growing endowment to the health of a school, but the Board intends to concentrate its efforts going forward on grants for direct application to program initiatives in support of faculty, students or development of the educational program. Many schools, however, decide to dedicate the required matching funds that must be raised to an endowment and this is consistent with Foundation policy. (In rare circumstances, endowment grants may be made to spur endowment giving in schools that are young or without a meaningful endowment, but for schools with established endowments such grants would only be considered if leveraged significantly by matching funds.)
In the early years, grants of several million dollars were made to thirty-three different organizations interested in and promoting private education. Scholarships, teacher intern programs, alcohol and drug education, trustee seminars, summer workshops, diversity initiatives and career resources are typical examples of these sorts of grants that were given. Apart from a program of grants to State and Regional Member Associations and to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), such grants are now made only to member associations where most members are otherwise E.E. Ford-eligible schools (see September 2016 letter from the Executive Director.) All grants have a matching component of at least one-to-one.
In 2008, the Board first awarded five matching grants of $250,000 to schools invited to compete for The Edward E. Ford Educational Leadership initiative. By April, 2016, a total of 34 such awards had been made. Beginning in April, 2018, schools will be allowed to nominate themselves for Leadership Grant consideration. These proposals must be generative and transformational. They must be replicable and will often include partnerships and will frequently address the question, “What is the public purpose of private education?”