The Knowledge for Freedom initiative supports programs that invite underserved high school students to college to study humanity’s deepest questions about leading lives of purpose and civic responsibility. Grants of varying amounts, ranging from $100,000-$300,000 over a 36-month period, will be made to each funded project participating in this initiative. The size of the grant will be based on the scope of the project. Colleges and universities interested in launching Knowledge for Freedom programs are encouraged to apply for planning grants, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 over a 6-12 month period.


Knowledge for Freedom programs invite underserved high school students to study humanity’s deepest questions about leading lives of purpose and civic responsibility. Between the junior and senior years of high school, students come into residence on a college campus, where they experience the intensity of a seminar-sized discussion taught by college professors focused on major works of philosophy and literature. Over the following year, while applying to college as high school seniors, the students engage in civic initiatives inspired by the recognition that their lives are interconnected with the lives of others.

High school students who typically find themselves shut out from opportunities available to their more affluent peers are thus provided with an opportunity to undertake college-level work in the humanities, to build meaningful relationships with college faculty and college students, who serve them as mentors, and to develop, through practice, civic skills with their peers. Knowledge for Freedom programs, as demonstrated by the  “Freedom and Citizenship” model program at Columbia University, dramatically improve college readiness, admission prospects, and college graduation, while building interest in humanistic writing and issues, as well as habits of civic engagement that persist during and after college.

Criteria for Project Proposals

The Knowledge for Freedom initiative is designed to be adaptable enough to reflect the assets and needs of each institution and coherent enough to create a community of shared practice among programs across the nation. All Knowledge for Freedom programs reflect certain common features: 

Required Attributes

Submission Process

Requests for grant support will be considered following our two-stage application process. First, we ask that prospective grantees share brief concept papers, described below, stating whether they are interested in planning or implementation grants. After review of the concept papers, a limited number of applicants will then be invited to submit full proposals. For complete details on the submission process, please refer to information on how we grant.

Concept papers for this initiative will be reviewed three times per year with submissions due by December 1, March 1, and August 1.  The Teagle Foundation’s fiscal year begins on July 1 and its Board of Directors reviews all grant requests when it meets in November, February, and May. If a proposal is invited, program staff will confer with applicants to determine the appropriate timeline for submitting a full proposal in line for potential review by the board. All concept papers should be submitted electronically at If invited, full proposals will be submitted through the Foundation’s online application system.

Applying for a Planning Grant

The majority of Knowledge for Freedom programs begin with a planning grant. All Knowledge for Freedom programs require intensive planning, significant time commitment, and serious support from outside experts on such topics as syllabus planning, the social dynamics of high school students, college readiness support, and writing coaching.  Recognizing the value of variation across programs, the Teagle Foundation appreciates that each college or university will require a 6-12 month planning process to create a program that responds to its local culture—to its particular resources, curricular traditions, and surrounding cultural and political institutions. The Foundation will expect an implementation proposal at the close of the planning process.

We encourage interested institutions to submit a 3-5 page concept paper that outlines the timeline for establishing the necessary ingredients to launch a program. We also encourage applicants to review the Knowledge for Freedom Planning Toolkit here.

Applying for an Implementation Grant

We encourage interested institutions to submit a 3-5 page concept paper that names the lead faculty who will serve as the director or co-director on the project, the departmental home for the program, and lists all of the institutional partners necessary for launching a Knowledge for Freedom program.

Foundation Contact

Please contact Tamara Mann Tweel, program director for civic initiatives, at if you have questions about the Knowledge for Freedom initiative.