The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on a mission to encourage education and improve public health. The foundation operates under the direction of CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., as of May 2011. The husband and wife, along with industrialist Warren Buffet, provide the overall direction for the foundation. The foundation estimates the total funding supplied from 1994 through March 2011, to organizations, individuals and groups in the United States and the world, totals $24,812,000,000, much of it going to education grants.
Early Learning Grants
The Gates Foundation maintains that high school dropouts, homeless adults and people in jail failed to experience the necessary early childhood education of their peers who don't have these major life issues. Children under the age of five left in low-quality child care that fails to provide personal interaction end up with a lack of basic education skills and fail to develop curiosity about learning and life. The Gates Foundation works to counteract the disadvantages of this lack of early experience. Washington state serves as the foundation's testing ground for programs enhancing the education experience for children under five. The foundation funds grants to the Washington Early Learning Fund and an expanding number of neighboring centers in King's County and East Yakima, Washington.
Bill and Melinda Gates provide funding to the foundation that also supports education and teaching groups working with students at pre-college level as part of the group's "College-Ready Education" grants. The public and private groups awarded grants include organizations working to supplement and enhance knowledge and education necessary to succeed in college. The Gates Foundation grantees included programs remediating students in core knowledge, basic writing, reading and math skills and high school programs called "early college high schools," where students working below standards take content area classes, rather than remediation, to motivate learning. Other grants for pre-college groups feature early learning groups in Washington state, Bill and Melinda Gate's home state. These grants fund programs for children from birth through age five, the time most children enter kindergarten.
Student College Scholarships
The Gates Foundation also targets grants for people under 30 without a college degree. Citing the necessity of a college degree in a global economy focused on technology, the foundation funds projects to improve community colleges and develop new programs of postsecondary education using technology. The Millennium Scholars Program provides awards to 1,000 high school students. Another focus of the Gates Foundation funding encourages partnerships between secondary schools and private industry to train students and provide hands-on learning experiences. The foundation cites the lack of American math and science college majors as the motivation for allocating specific funding to attract students to these college majors.
Postsecondary Education Grants
The lion's share of Gates Foundation funding for education goes to education organizations. The Campus Compact, Parent Teacher Associations, League for Innovation in the Community College, Minnesota State Colleges, Colorado Legacy Foundation and the Universities Foundation all received grants in 2010. Curriculum and teacher training groups also receive monies from the Gates Foundation, including the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education.