In January 2013, Sooch Foundation established a new, more narrowly focused strategy to best maximize impact while working toward our mission. To that end, the foundation will no longer fund a broad spectrum of educational projects across all age groups. Instead, the Foundation will now focus on programs that help adults and their families earn self-sustaining wages that were not previously on track to do so, as well as on programs that increase graduation rates from college and other post-secondary institutions for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. To reach these goals, Sooch Foundation will primarily fund programs serving adults and young adults.
Additionally, we also look for the following four criteria in deciding which educational opportunities to fund. The ideal candidate will meet all four criteria.
1) Positive impact upon socio-economically disadvantaged people
We are looking to fund programs that assist people who are lacking basic necessities, particularly as relate to success in school and career and ultimately in life. We seek to equalize some of these differences to help empower people to acquire the skills needed to reach their full potential and utilize their unique skills and talents. To qualify for funding, grantee programs must serve a minimum of 60% economically disadvantaged people, while the vast majority of programs funded serve 75% or above.
2) Project has a measurable, long-lasting outcome
We require a gauge to know whether our funding efforts have been successful. For this reason, we seek projects with clearly defined and measurable outcomes, that can demonstrate a positive and permanent change for program participants that will ideally impact future generations. We look to support organizations that track not only short-term outcomes, but also longer-term outcomes and those that relate to systemic change in education reform. For examples of the specific types of outcomes we request within our new strategy, please see our Evaluation page.
3) Project lies within our geographic area of focus
Our foundation prefers to work closely and on a personal level with our grantees, as well as understand the local contexts and stakeholders that impact our grantees’ work to best assist them in reaching their goals. Thus our funding is restricted to organizations located in Austin, Texas, where our foundation is headquartered. We do not make grants to the greater Central Texas region nor to other areas of Texas or the country. As of early 2013, we also are no longer funding international projects in India.
4) Donation must be efficiently and productively utilized
We will closely scrutinze the amount of administrative overhead of any program brought before us. We are looking for those programs that realize disproportionate results relative to the dollars invested. It is important to us that as much of our donation as possible go to helping those who need it. At the same time, we seek organizations with a robust and sustainable infrastructure in place to recruit, retain, and empower high-quality leadership. We will look for organizations that are highly successful at managing this balance to maximize program impact.