Education Grants

Program Description & Guidelines

Rainin Foundation Education grants are by invitation only. Our grantmaking is focused on programs that help Oakland children be ready for kindergarten and on track for third grade reading success. Grants support teachers as well as children (birth to third grade) and their families to build relationships that develop children’s language, literacy and social emotional skills. Schools and community-based organizations are selected by the Foundation to apply for grants that help children become confident, capable and joyful learners!

Grantmaking Rooted in Research

The Rainin Foundation is committed to supporting organizations that help children progress in literacy development, while also helping them develop socially and emotionally through positive relationships. We know from extensive research that there are specific skills children need to be successful in kindergarten.

These skills include:

  • Oral Language
  • Vocabulary and Meaning
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Book and Print Concepts
  • Alphabet Knowledge
  • Early Math (measurement, classification, patterns, numbers, space and shapes)
  • Science (prediction, observation, asking questions, understanding and communication)
  • Understanding Emotions and Self-Regulation
  • Developing and maintaining positive friendships
  • Motivation, persistence, confidence and curiosity

And, by third grade, children are successful when they progress towards the specific reading skills identified by the National Reading Panel:

  • Comprehension with Strategies for Understanding
  • Comprehension with Strong Vocabulary
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency

Education Grants

Our education grants fund education partners in Oakland schools, research on best practices and approaches, and family programs that support language development.

Community Partners

We support education partners who are committed to measurable results in the areas outlined above and who use evidence-based “active ingredients” (i.e., best practices). These practices help teachers to use effective strategies, provide fun and meaningful activities, use data continuously, and incorporate language rich learning with lots of interactive reading.

When teachers learn with and from each other, results are amplified. We look to support systemic solutions to persistent problems by bringing teachers and leaders together across multiple schools and centers. Learn more about the context in which children learn, and the skills and active ingredients that most impact kindergarten readiness and third grade reading success on our research page.

Family Programs

We fund programs for families that help parents realize their dreams for their children. These programs build responsive relationships, create positive emotions, and place language and vocabulary at the heart of parent/child interactions. See our household survey and find out what 440 Oakland families with small children told us about their early childhood experiences.

We evaluate invited proposals based on how they contribute to Oakland becoming a City of Readers, and apply evidence-based practices to help children secure the language, literacy and social emotional skills they need to be successful in school.


Education grants are by invitation only. If after reading the program description and guidelines, you think your organization’s work might be a fit, please email Paula Ambrose. We really do value hearing from potential partners who share our dream of every child enjoying success in school and in life. Other things you should know about eligibility:

  • Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations or to 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsors.
  • All fiscal sponsorships require a written agreement.
  • Organizations must provide services for Oakland children. While an organization can operate and provide services outside of Oakland, our funding can only go towards your Oakland-based programming.

The Foundation does not fund:

  • Direct assistance to individuals or individual sponsorship
  • Capital campaign requests
  • Sports, athletic events or league sponsorship
  • Advertising or promotional sponsorship
  • Fraternal organizations
  • Organizations that discriminate based on religion, race, sexual orientation or gender

Application Process

  • Education grant applications are available by invitation only.
  • We do not have an LOI process. We welcome inquiries by email or requests for exploratory conversations.
  • We typically extend invitations for spring (early March) and fall (early September) grant cycles. Note: fall invitations are subject to funding availability.


Email Paula Ambrose, Education Program Officer.

Read more about our work in our Education Blog.

Subscribe to our newsletter  for the latest grant announcements and updates.