Individualized Learning School Intermediary Grant Program

The Bush Foundation offers funding to school intermediaries with a promising or proven approach to implementing individualized learning in schools, and a track record of working with K-12 schools to incorporate that approach. Among other criteria, applicants must demonstrate that there is demand for their individualized learning model.

This grant is part of the Bush Foundation’s goal to make our region the national leader in individualizing education to meet the needs and ambitions of all students.

Learn more about our Education Initiative.

Program Overview

Our Education Vision

We believe that education is critical to making our region better for everyone. Currently, our conventional education system, which batches students by age and teaches them mostly in the same manner and at the same pace, works for only some students. Our education system should help all students reach their highest potential. We believe this requires a more individualized approach to learning, one that makes education more relevant to all students in terms of:

  • CULTURAL RELEVANCE | Who students are:
    Create learning environments that welcome and support students from all cultures and backgrounds.

  • INSTRUCTIONAL RELEVANCE | How students learn:
    Customize learning to help students learn in a manner and at a pace that meets their individual needs.
  • CAREER RELEVANCE | What students want to do:
    Help students imagine a career and provide them with supports that are tailored to get them where they want to go.

Using these concepts, we set a guiding goal to make our region the national leader in individualizing education to meet the needs and ambitions of all students.

Our Education Strategy 

There are many ways schools can incrementally individualize learning for students that move them from the conventional model closer to a customized or individualized model. For example, schools could take steps toward becoming more career relevant through adding a career program in partnership with a local employer. We think these incremental steps are great, however, we believe schoolwide transformations are needed to truly support the development and success of every individual student, given who they are, how they learn, and what they hope to achieve in life. This means transforming how schools are structured and operated, to be able to deliver on these three areas of relevance for every child.

We seek to fund school intermediaries that have a specific and tested approach that works well with schools to build their individualized learning capacity. School intermediaries must be working on all three of these dimensions of individualized learning and have evidence to show that there is demand from K-12 schools for the approach. 

This Opportunity

We anticipate funding three to five school intermediaries with track records of working with schools to incorporate a specific individualized learning model – a model that the school intermediary can demonstrate demand for and expertise in. These school intermediaries must meet the criteria below and plan to work with more schools than they are currently working with.

We use the term individualized learning to mean an education model that is more relevant to who students are, how they learn and where they want to go. We realize that many providers and intermediaries use different terminology that may be closely aligned, including personalized learning, customized learning, self-directed learning, learner-centric education, to name a few. As you will see in the application questions, we ask you to name what you call your type of learning and define it. 

Also note that a “specific” approach or model for individualizing learning has at least these characteristics: 1) existing and currently used by schools or networks of schools in the region or in the country; 2) clearly defined principles, strategies and technical supports that a school can use or adapt to bring about change in that school; and 3) directly targets the school or district as the unit of change. Organizations or intermediaries that work to change the ecosystem of supports at the macrolevel, such as government through policy change, data gathering, coalition/network building, and/or generally sharing ideas and practices are not aligned under the goals of this grant opportunity. For that work, we suggest you look at our Ecosystem Grant Program.  

In selecting a few intermediaries through this opportunity, we aim to create a variety of transformation options that best represent and serve the cultural and geographic diversity of our region, as well as the variety of approaches that exist in individualizing learning.


Applicants must be 501(c)(3) public charities or government entities (including schools). Coalitions or collaboratives are eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant.

For this program, we also accept applications from fiscal sponsors. The fiscal sponsor organization must submit the grant application and, if the grant is approved, becomes the grantee and receives the funds. Our fiscal sponsor overview provides additional information.

Grants must be used by the intermediary to support schools located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, in building their capacity.

This program is focused on intermediary organizations that support multiple K-12 schools and/or districts in implementing individualized learning models. Applicants such as school departments or teams looking to implement individualized learning in their own school(s) are not eligible under this program. The target beneficiaries of the work must be other schools/districts (not the applicant's own). Note that there is an existing grant program that provides funding directly to schools interested in designing and implementing individualized education. 

Selection Criteria

Grants will be awarded based on how well applicants meet the following criteria:

  1. Alignment with our definition of individualized learning, as defined by the three dimensions of relevance. 
  2. That the specific individualized learning approach is a promising or proven approach, including evidence that the approach leads to greater equity in education. 
  3. Demand from K-12 schools in the region for this approach.
  4. The applicant has capability and capacity to support more schools in making change towards the proposed approach.

We will also assess the applicant’s alignment with our operating values

How To Apply

We are no longer accepting applications for this grant.

Selection Process and Timeline

Staff will work with external education leaders to select the intermediaries based on the degree to which the applicants meet the criteria.

Application review and due diligence will occur throughout the summer of 2018.

Finalists will be notified in late June 2018 and grantees will be announced in September 2018.  

We're Here To Help

For more information, please contact Yong Her at or 651-379-2200.

Learn more about the Education strategic initiative.