July 2023

Call for Applications: Assembly Grant Program

New Solutions That Connect Families With Learning Options

About the Grant Program

The Assembly Grant Program will provide grants of up to $100,000 to organizations designing or developing new solutions to help families furthest from opportunity access flexible, personalized learning options. Select grantees will be invited to apply for a second round of up to $300,000 in funding to support implementation in early 2024.  

Seven in ten parents are interested in exploring new learning options for their children, whether changing schools or finding different out-of-school options. Many express interest in extracurricular activities, tutoring, or alternative learning formats like learning pods, microschools, and home-schooling. Declining enrollment in public schools suggests that many families are looking for something the traditional school experience doesn’t provide. The demand for flexible, personalized learning options is on the rise. 

Whether families are looking for learning options to supplement or replace the traditional school experience, however, their access to those options too often depends on their financial means and the time and energy they can devote to identifying the options that work best for them. The scale of family demand and the increasing complexity of the learning ecosystem demand new scalable and sustainable solutions to the challenges of navigation.  

Bellwether, in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, is seeking applicants to the Assembly Grant Program with new solutions to these challenges.  

Review the full Call for Applications below. 

Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. PDT Tuesday, August 22, 2023.  

To submit an application by the August 22, 2023 deadline, click here.

To learn more, watch the recording of our informational webinar on August 8, 2023. 

To receive updates about deadlines, frequently asked questions, and more, please share your contact information here.

Questions? Review the FAQs or email us at proposals@bellwether.org. 

The Grant Program Brief and Grant Program Rules, below, include important context and guidance for the Call for Applications. These documents provide information related to metrics, budget submission, intellectual property, conflicts of interest, and more, along with example solutions. 

Review the FAQs for more information.

Grant Purpose 

Grant funding may be used to support a wide variety of activities, including user research or stakeholder engagement to identify unmet needs; the design of new tools, resources, or approaches to providing support to families; or the piloting of advancements in new technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence) or services and their refinement in response to feedback. What applications must do is propose a new solution that will improve how families access one or more of the following: 

  • Funding: Streamline how families enroll in programs that provide public funding to defray the costs of learning options. 
  • Information: Provide the information families value most in searching for and selecting available learning options. 
  • Guidance: Support families in selecting learning options, including but not limited to the quality of options and how options align to students’ individual needs. 

Application Process

Grants will be awarded in two phases, an initial Phase 1 that will provide up to $100,000 for the design or development of new solutions and Phase 2 that will provide up to $300,000 for the implementation of the new solution.

Phase 1: Design or Development  

  • July 11, 2023: Bellwether releases the Call for Applications. 
  • August 22, 2023: Phase 1 applications due. 
  • Late September 2023: Applicants are notified of whether their application will be funded. 
  • Mid-October 2023: Grantees receive up to $100,000 in funding. 
  • October 2023 through January 2024: Grantees design or develop new solutions. 
  • Late January 2024: Grantees report Phase 1 outputs of their work. 

Phase 2: Implementation 

  • February 2024: Select grantees are invited to apply for additional funding up to $300,000 to support the implementation of new solutions. 
  • March 2024: Phase 2 applications due.   
  • April 2024: Applicants are notified of whether their application will be funded and receive up to $300,000 in funding. 
  • April through September 2024: Grantees implement their new solutions. 
  • September 2024: Grantees report outcomes of their work. 

Eligible Entities 

Entities eligible to apply for funding include family-serving organizations, technology companies or providers, and state agencies or state program administrators. All applicants and partners must be registered or incorporated in accordance with applicable state and local laws, as well as maintain a primary place of business in the United States. An eligible entity may not be the lead on more than one application.  

For-profit entities are eligible to apply if they intend to use the grant for charitable purposes and agree to comply with procedures for assuring that grant funds are spent solely for the charitable purposes intended. 

Bellwether will give special consideration to applications that propose: 

  • Partnerships between two or more eligible entities that enable coordinated solutions for families and students furthest from opportunity.  
  • Solutions that have leveraged or will leverage user research, human-centered design, and/or stakeholder engagement to ensure solutions are responsive to the experiences, needs, and perspectives of families and students furthest from opportunity.  
  • Solutions that facilitate or will facilitate participation in and satisfaction with publicly funded programs, such as state education savings account programs or microgrant programs, in which  
    • Families have direct control over funding,  
    • Families can use funding for a variety of learning options that supplement or supplant a traditional school experience, or 
    • Families can use funding for expenses that may include but are not limited to school tuition. 

Judging Process 

Applications will first be reviewed by Bellwether staff and technical judges for responsiveness to the aims of the Assembly Grant Program and the soundness of the proposed new solution. Bellwether staff and external advisers will then review the top applications for their ingenuity and potential impact. Final funding decisions will be made by the Bellwether team.  


About the Advisers

Alex Spurrier

Cara Candal, Ed.D.

Vice President, Policy, ExcelinEd
Alex Spurrier

Oscar E. Cruz

Nonprofit Leader
Alex Spurrier

Raphael Gang

Director, K12 Education, Stand Together Trust

Alex Spurrier

Derrick Johnson

Chief of Staff, EL Education

Alex Spurrier

Hannah Jolibois

Analyst, Watershed Advisors

Alex Spurrier

Jamie Jutila

Program Officer, Education Program, Walton Family Foundation

Alex Spurrier

Daree Lewis

Director – SEO Leadership Institute, SEO (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity)

Alex Spurrier

Maya Martin Cadogan

Executive Director, PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education)

Alex Spurrier

Darcel Sanders

CEO, GO Public Schools and GO Public Schools Advocates

Linea Koehler

Elizabeth Schmidt

Founder and CEO, Uppercase
Linea Koehler

Felicia C. Smith, Ed.D.

President, National Center for Families Learning (NCFL)

Alex Spurrier

Juliet Squire

Senior Partner, Bellwether
Alex Spurrier

Gene Wade

Venture Advisor, AI Fund
Alex Spurrier

Kate Watts

Nonprofit Management Consultant, Still Make Good

Bellwether is a national nonprofit that exists to transform education to ensure systemically marginalized young people achieve outcomes that lead to fulfilling lives and flourishing communities. Founded in 2010, we work hand in hand with education leaders and organizations to accelerate their impact, inform and influence policy and program design, and share what we learn along the way. For more, visit bellwether.org.
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.