Pre-K through 12 Education



Jack Cullen believed that access to high quality education is critical for an individual and a community’s success. To honor this belief, Cullen Foundation seeks to significantly enhance education for Erie County students in grades pre-K through 12.

Cullen Foundation recognizes that despite some progress over the past decades, there are still substantial education challenges that exist in Erie County today, including Math and English proficiency scores significantly below state averages, low high school graduation rates, and lack of college and career readiness. Cullen Foundation also recognizes that there are no “silver bullet” solutions; instead, the Foundation believes that a portfolio of approaches, interventions, and types of support are necessary to enhancing the education of Erie County students today. 

Cullen Foundation invests in Pre-K through 12 programs through our bi-annual open, responsive grant process. You can find more information about eligibility and the process of applying to these cycles here.


Details on Education Programs and Organizations that Cullen Funds

In Education, our priority is to fund programs with specific, direct, measurable academic outcomes, particularly those that serve economically disadvantaged students in grades Pre-K through 12. While our open grant process does not fund individual schools (see charter exception below), we do fund out-of-school programs, and supplemental in-school programs that support students in regular public and charter schools. For examples of who we fund please see the list of our grant recipients here.

We seek evidence-based programs with a strong focus on direct (vs. indirect) academic outcomes. We seek grantees that can:

  • Identify and articulate true, measurable outcomes of their proposed programming (note Pilot programs are eligible when the program is based on valid research based practices and when the applicant demonstrates healthy organization structures and demonstrates that there are functioning systems in place for the program to succeed)
  • Describe the process with which they achieve outcomes, including how and when to evaluate being on-track to meeting the outcomes, and what the iteration process looks like when off track

In addition, we fund projects and organizations that fit the following criteria:

  • We prioritize programs that serve primarily economically disadvantaged students
  • We are interested in organizations that learn from challenges and take every opportunity to improve programming


Please note that Cullen Foundation does not fund the following projects/programs in education:
Field trip funds/programs, museum exhibits, recreational camps or recreation-based programs, internship programs, “arts in education” programs, professional development programs/services, education resource rooms/drop in centers, skills and job training programs, transportation requests and individual schools (charter school exception noted below).


Individual Charter Schools

Once a year Cullen Foundation opens its responsive grant application process/cycle to individual charter schools in Erie County that meet the following criteria:

  • Schools that are committed to providing excellent education for Buffalo students
  • Schools with committed leadership teams with the expertise and ability to successfully implement the grant
  • Schools that are reflective, open to share, and transparent in their efforts to significantly improve the life opportunities for its students
  • Schools with a majority of the student body qualifying as economically disadvantaged