- Microgrants, which consist of money raised through fundraising efforts and donations, allow schools and districts to offer smaller grants to students for items such as books, necessary clothing or supplemental college funds needed to help them persist through postsecondary education, Forbes reports.
- The idea of these microgrants is credited as having started through schools in the KIPP charter school network in the District of Columbia, where the Carol and Eugene Ludwig College Match Fund helps high school seniors transition to colleges with higher graduation rates, and the Carol & Eugene Ludwig Persistence Fund helps graduates from KIPP fill financial gaps that may derail their college journey.
- Other KIPP schools and New York-based Achievement First charter network schools also offer microgrant programs, as do some colleges as a means of helping improve student retention. A program called Raise Me also helps connect high school students to some microgrant opportunities offered at partner colleges.
Some schools are taking the responsibility of education further than high school graduation to help meet the needs of students who struggle to make it to or through college because of financial setbacks. Though tuition may be largely covered by scholarships or grants for some college students, daily survival needs such as food and housing remain unmet. The idea of microgrants seem to be primarily focused now on helping high school students transition to college settings and helping them remain there despite adverse circumstances.
The use of microgrants to expand college access for students is a worthy goal. But the idea of microgrants could also be easily applied to meet other needs at the K-12 level. School leaders used to largely assume that a student’s basic human needs were being met by parents, but that assumption, which was often false even in the past, certainly does not hold true today. Poverty, apathy or other overwhelming life circumstances in the lives of parents often leave children with the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and medical attention unmet.
Most students do not thrive academically when they are worried about where their next meal is coming from or where they will sleep that night. District and school leaders often must wrestle with finding ways to provide wrap-around services to help meet these needs. The community school model is becoming an increasingly popular way to meet some of these needs, but the idea of microgrants may also provide a way to offer affordable philanthropy options to community and business partners that may want to offer a helping hand to students who need support to survive and thrive until they can make it on their own.