Salesforce Makes Grant to NYC Schools, in Its Latest Round of Donations to K-12 Districts

Staff Writer

Salesforce is donating $500,000 to New York City’s public school district, the latest in a series of grants focused on building workforce skills and leadership that the growing software company has made to K-12 systems.

In addition, the software company said it is awarding $250,000 to Futures and Options, a New York-based nonprofit focused on cultivating job skills among impoverished minority youth.

With the gift to New York City’s schools, Salesforce, which has made previous donations to school systems in Chicago, Indianapolis, and the Bay Area, says it is tripling the number of students it serves. The company says it has made about $67 million in donations to public school districts over time.

All of the districts that have received grants from the company are also customers of Salesforce, who use the company’s business technology for a variety of academic and management functions, the company told EdWeek Market Brief.

The $500,000 grant to New York City’s schools will support several leadership initiatives in the nation’s largest district, including the rollout of what company Chief Philanthropy Officer Ebony Beckwith says is a new “graduate profile” to serve as the city’s “north star” definition for the knowledge, skills, and experiences that all public school students should gain by graduation.

The grant is also meant to provide the district with resources to bolster equity and academic achievement across New York City schools, Beckwith said.

Salesforce, which produces cloud-based software that automates sales processes, has a dedicated education industry vertical for K-12 and higher education, Salesforce spokesperson Cheyenne King said in an email to EdWeek Market Brief.

All the districts that have been given grants by Salesforce are using its technology in one way or another, the company said. For instance, the New York City Department of Education uses Salesforce to manage its Community Schools program in over 250 schools. The city of New York describes Community Schools as neighborhood “hubs” where students receive high-quality academic instruction, families can access social services, and communities congregate to share resources and address common challenges.

The Oakland Unified School District, another recipient of philanthropic backing from Salesforce, is using Salesforce Education Cloud to support student intervention and case management, community school program management, and managing state grants, she said. Salesforce Education Cloud for Higher Education and K-12 is a customer- relationship product that helps with student recruitment, admissions, student experience, and advancement.

The company’s grants are not directly tied to its sales in the districts it services, King said. “There isn’t much overlap, if any,” between Salesforce’s district grants and the technology it sells to K-12 customers, King said. 

“The model is three-pronged — technology for K-12, higher ed and nonprofits; grants towards education and workforce development; and volunteering,” she said. “This model is coming to life in these K-12 schools.”

PD and College Preparation in Focus

Saleforce’s new grants “reflect our belief that equity, opportunity, and early career exposure are the keys to leveling the playing field and preparing a diverse workforce with the skills to thrive,” Beckwith said in a statement.

In September, the company announced an $8.5 million donation to San Francisco Unified School District, where the company’s headquarters is located. The grant was meant to provide professional development for computer science teachers and ensure computer science classes are available to students in all levels of district schooling.

The donation was also designed to support African American students entering high school, and to start college preparation for first-generation college students as early as middle school.

In May, Salesforce announced a $500,000 donation to Indianapolis Public Schools — the company recently opened a major office in the city — to fund enhanced college- and career-readiness. The grant included support for a number of initiatives, including the launch of a high school IT academy, in which students get hands-on learning opportunities in “high-wage, high-demand” sectors.

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