9 Best Charities for Education in America (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities for Education in America (Complete 2024 List)

By
Alycia O'Dell

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Education can open the door to opportunity and is key to social and economic mobility. In the US, nearly every state’s constitution guarantees that all children are entitled to a free and adequate education. However, factors like poverty, systemic racism, and inadequate funding contribute to unequal educational outcomes, and some children are at a disadvantage from the start. Luckily, organizations nationwide are working to improve the state of education and outcomes for all students. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for education in America?

The best charities for education in America are Scholarship America and the United Negro College Fund. Organizations like DonorsChoose and Teach for America work to improve education in America by directly supporting teachers.

Whether you want to help support a community school, ensure a teacher has enough materials for every student in their class, or fund a scholarship that allows a student to achieve their academic dreams, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for education in America are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to donate.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Education in America Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact, transparency ratings, and achievements.

They operate throughout the US on a national level, but some utilize local affiliates to better serve the needs of individual communities.

Many of these charities fight to make sure that youth don’t miss out on higher education due to financial constraints. Others work to ensure that children in rural areas receive quality education as early as possible. 

Some provide mentorship to help young adults navigate the transition to college and apply for scholarships, while others advocate for policies to dismantle systemic racism. 

Yet, they all share a common goal; to help children in America reach their fullest educational potential and create a more equitable future.

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Education in America in 2024

Below are our favorite charities for education in America (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

Scholarship America: Ensuring Student Success

Logo for Scholarship America
We Are Scholarship America

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Scholarship America holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Scholarship America is here to help you break down barriers, open doors, and access scholarships that help you succeed in life.

Scholarship America

⚒️

What they do:

Scholarship America works directly with students, parents, colleges, businesses, and communities to help students fulfill their college dreams. For example, they provide Scholarship Management Services to help corporations, foundations, and individuals maximize their philanthropic impact, from designing custom scholarship programs to managing the administration of funds. Also, their Dollars for Scholars program supports a network of community-based scholarship organizations dedicated to ensuring local scholarships go to local students. Moreover, they provide resources for students to bolster their success, including topics like scholarship application tips and finding a mentor. And, they provide emergency grants to help students stay in school in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Scholarship America has distributed $5.4 billion in scholarships to more than 3 million students, making them the nation’s largest and most experienced provider of private scholarships. In 2022 alone, they distributed more than $303 million across more than 100,000 students through custom scholarships, emergency grants, Dollars for Scholars affiliates, and more. For example, their custom Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship awarded $16 million across 400 recipients, while their Dollars for Scholars network awarded almost 21,000 scholarships, valued at $25.5 million total.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Scholarship America through their website where you can also support specific programs, like emergency grants or the Dream Award. In addition, you can volunteer with your local Dollars for Scholars affiliate.

2

United Negro College Fund: Enhancing African American Higher Education

Logo for United Negro College Fund
UNCF's Promise: The Promise of Black Higher Education

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

The United Negro College Fund holds a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

United Negro College Fund

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What they do:

The United Negro College Fund helps African American students and Historically Black Colleges and Universities through financial support and advocacy. For example, they award more than 10,000 scholarships and internships to Black and minority students annually. Furthermore, their Institute for Capacity Building provides direct and technical support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions. They also advocate for local and federal policies that remove barriers to higher education and promote college readiness within the African American Community.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the United Negro College Fund has helped more than 500,000 students earn their college degrees, including African Americans. Furthermore, their 37 member schools educate more than 50,000 students each year, and their graduates account for over 17% of all bachelor degrees earned by African American students. And, in 2015, their advocacy efforts contributed to an increase of $32 million in federal funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the United Negro College Fund via their website. You can also contribute by registering to participate in events, or by volunteering with a local affiliate.

3

DonorsChoose: Connecting the Public to Public Schools

Logo for DonorsChoose
Fast Facts About DonorsChoose.org!

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

DonorsChoose holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Support a classroom. Build a future.”

DonorsChoose

⚒️

What they do:

DonorsChoose supports public education in America by allowing real teachers to post classroom projects and letting donors select exactly where their money is going. First, donors browse the organization’s website to find a classroom project to support. Then, once a project is fully funded, DonorsChoose purchases the requested items and ships them directly to the requesting teacher. For example, a donor who is passionate about physical education might choose to fund new sports equipment, while a donor who is interested in mental health might choose to support a project that supports social and emotional learning. Furthermore, the organization is committed to improving educational equity by allowing donors to choose from projects at Equity Focus Schools in historically underserved communities.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, DonorsChoose has raised over $1.62 billion, funding more than 2.9 million projects across 882,000 teachers in 90,400 schools in the US. For example, in the 2022-2023 school year alone, the organization’s donors gave $152 million, honoring 316,805 classroom project requests nationwide. Moreover, in the same year, 64% of projects funded belonged to Equity Focus Schools.

Ways to contribute:

You can support DonorsChoose by browsing their site and selecting a project to help fund. You can also purchase a Gift Card for a loved one to select their own project or volunteer with the organization.

4

Teach for America: Diversifying the Field of Education in America

Logo for Teach For America
Student Announcement

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Teach for America holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Find your purpose. Find your people. Fuel potential.”

Teach for America

⚒️

What they do:

Teach for America finds, develops, and supports the next generation of educational leaders to transform and expand academic opportunities for all children. For example, through their Teacher Corps program, aspiring teachers teach full-time in schools that are underserved due to systemic racism and/or poverty. During their minimum two-year commitment, they are fully trained and supported by TFA coaches and have the opportunity to receive their initial teaching license. Furthermore, their Alumni programs offer career-long support through networking, exclusive continuing education and development opportunities, and career resources.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Teach for America has helped almost 70,000 aspiring educators impact students in underserved communities, and over 58% remained in the education field for the duration of their careers. Since their founding, over 1,000 Teach for America Alumni have been named Teacher of the Year and more than 1,300 hold educational leadership positions. Moreover, the organization’s alumni demographic closely reflects that of their students, a factor known to enhance learning outcomes: more than half identify as people of color, half come from a low-income background, and over a third are first-generation college graduates.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Teach for America through their website. You can also support the organization by joining as a teacher or tutor or following their social media.

5

Easterseals: Enhancing Equity in Special Education

Logo for Easterseals
That's My Easterseals: Expanding Employment (PSA)

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Easterseals holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“All abilities. Limitless Possibilities.”

Easterseals

⚒️

What they do:

Easterseals ensures that all people have the opportunity to fully benefit from their environment, including access to a high-quality and inclusive education, regardless of ability. For example, their Early Intervention programs support children with a range of disabilities through services such as early childhood education and screening tools to identify developmental delays. Furthermore, they established The Intersection Collective and the Black Child Fund to support programs that drive equality within the disabled community, including the Project of Education and Community Health Equity, which works to remove barriers to high-quality early education and promote kindergarten readiness among BIPOC youth.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Easterseals has made the world a more inclusive place for more than 1.5 million people with disabilities every year. For example, in 2021 alone, 59,396 people utilized their Early Intervention services, while 12,814 used their Online Developmental Screening Tool to help identify and address developmental delays. And, they are a leading voice for equity within the disabled community. In 2022, they published Ignored, Punished, and Underserved, a report highlighting disparities facing Black children and families in special education.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Easterseals via their website. You can also contribute by registering to participate in a Walk With Me event, or by volunteering with an Easterseals near you.

6

Save the Children: Supporting Students in Rural America

Logo for Save the Children
I Am The Future | Save the Children TV Advert

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Save the Children holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

All children deserve a healthy start in life.”

Save the Children

⚒️

What they do:

Save the Children’s US education programs ensure that children in underprivileged or rural communities have access to consistent, quality education. For example, their Early Head Start and Head Start programs are federally funded and provide learning opportunities to children from birth through age 5. As another example, they promote kindergarten readiness through their KinderBoost program, which helps families become familiar with the expectations of the school setting. Furthermore, their school-age programs provide supplemental support to struggling students, both during school hours and in after-school settings. And, they help curb summer learning loss through their SummerBoost program.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Save the Children has changed the lives of over 1 billion children, improving wellbeing and educational opportunities. For example, in 2022 alone they helped ensure that over 1 million children across 938 rural American communities had the tools and resources necessary to succeed academically. In the same year, their advocacy efforts helped secure almost $800 million in investments to expand early learning and nutrition programs in the US.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Save the Children via their website. You can also participate in a fundraiser, volunteer, or sponsor a child.

7

NEA Foundation: Championing Equitable Public Education

Logo for NEA Foundation
Meet the NEA Foundation

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

The NEA Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Keeping the promise of public education.”

NEA Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The NEA Foundation works to improve the state of public schools across the US by investing in educators’ and communities’ leadership, learning, partnerships, and advocacy. For example, they award grants and provide fellowship opportunities to teachers to enhance the classroom experience for their students. Their grants include Student Success Grants, which are awarded to teachers utilizing innovative teaching methods, and Envision Equity Grants, which help educators deepen their students’ understanding of systemic racism and equity. They also support the development of Community Schools, which bring parents, educators, policymakers, and community partners together to maximize academic and non-academic resources and support available to all students.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the NEA Foundation has enhanced the public school experience for over 1.5 million students, distributing $7.1 million in grants to individual educators across the US. For example, in 2023 alone, they awarded grants to 172 educators, impacting over 180,000 students. And, since the launch of their Community Schools Initiative in 2020, they have supported the development of 16 community schools across the Deep South, a historically educationally underserved region.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the NEA Foundation through their website. You can also support the organization by attending an event or following their social media. And, Verizon Wireless customers can opt-in to the company’s Customer Bill Pay Charitable Donation Program.

8

Children’s Defense Fund: Improving Equity in Education

Logo for Children’s Defense Fund
Introduction to the Children's Defense Fund

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the Children’s Defense Fund a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Gold rating for transparency. 

“Unleashing the joy in growing up.”

Children’s Defense Fund

⚒️

What they do:

The Children’s Defense Fund operates programs that improve educational outcomes for African American youth. For example, their CDF Freedom Schools program provides after-school and summertime academic enrichment for K-12 children and is staffed primarily by college students of color. Furthermore, their Black Student Leadership Network provides financial and training resources to help students become effective public leaders and advocates. In addition, their Centering Youth Agency in the Civil Rights Movement program gives educators the tools and knowledge to teach civil rights history in a way that better represents the Black experience in America.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Children’s Defense Fund has impacted the lives of thousands of children, including improving educational outcomes for African American Youth. For example, their CDF Freedom Schools program has benefited over 200,000 children since its inception in 1995. In 2022 alone, they served more than 10,000 students, almost 70% of whom identified as Black. Furthermore, they have compiled hundreds of reports featuring stories, statistics, and data to direct advocacy efforts and inform policy change to improve children’s lives.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Children’s Defense Fund via their website. You can also contribute by volunteering to serve at a CDF Freedom School, purchasing branded merchandise, or joining their advocacy efforts.

9

World Vision: Equipping Students and Teachers for Success

Logo for World Vision
How does World Vision work? | World Vision USA

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Their transparency & ratings:

World Vision holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Pulling up the roots of poverty and planting the seeds of change.”

World Vision

⚒️

What they do:

World Vision promotes education in America through programs aimed at increasing student success, boosting parental engagement, and providing needed resources to underserved schools. For example, their Teacher Resource Center provides new school supplies to teachers working in low-income neighborhoods. As another example, their KidREACH OST program works with parents, teachers, and volunteers to mentor and tutor students in under-resourced communities. Moreover, they provide students with access to Worldreader’s digital literacy app, which includes over 400 books and activities in various languages that focus on increasing literacy, social and emotional development, and family engagement.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, World Vision has improved the health, safety, and education of millions of children around the world. For example, in 2023 alone, their Teacher Resource Center equipped more than 169,000 teachers and students across the US with over $3.2 million worth of educational products. In the same year, more than 140 children participated in their KidREACH OST program, receiving over 325 hours of academic assistance and 6,315 meals.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to World Vision via their website. You can also support the organization’s Education in America programs by donating school supplies, assembling Classroom Wellbeing Kits, or funding meals for children outside of school hours.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for education in America. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the websites of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. Charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to education in America—based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Alycia

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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