California Education Policy Fund

Program Details

Fund Status
Current Fund Focus
Applicant Eligibility
Applicant Categories
Funding Criteria
Grant Review and Selection Process

Fund Status

In September 2013 CEPF announced its third cohort of grantees bringing the total number of CEPF grantees to 21 and the total amount of CEPF grants to over $9 million.  To read the announcement, please visit the press release. To learn about all three cohorts of grantees, please visit the Current Grantees page.

The CEPF is intended to be an annual program however its longevity is dependent on continued donor support.  All future grant rounds, the next of which would be in 2014, will be announced publicly by RPA.

Current Fund Focus

The California Education Policy Fund (CEPF) is intended to both: (a) advance policy and practice reform to promote Deeper Learning in schools to prepare students for college and career and (b) support a broad, balanced ecosystem of nonprofit organizations working to improve the conditions for education policymaking in the state of California.

Deeper Learning
In almost every aspect of their lives, California’s young people today are being asked to learn more, process more, and produce more. Deeper Learning refers to the set of higher-order skills that students will need to succeed in twenty-first-century work and civic life. These higher-order skills include:


While they have long been essential for educational and career success, today these skills are even more necessary with the rising demands of global commerce, politics, and technology. Moreover, the opportunity to advance Deeper Learning has never been greater than with the advent of the new Common Core State Standards which call for this set of higher order thinking skills and knowledge.

The Common Core State Standards—adopted by California and 45 other states—and the aligned assessments produced by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) provide a strong foundation for coordination of California’s K-12 system with Deeper Learning goals. Along with emerging changes in accountability systems and new supports to educators, these reforms can begin to strengthen the college- and career-readiness of California students.

Further, California has recently joined the national Innovation Lab Network (ILN). Hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the ILN began in 2010 with an ambitious mission: each student in the U.S. will be ready for college and career upon graduation from high school. Today, 10 member states, with more than 20 million total students, are pursuing policy and practice reforms that advance Deeper Learning through reform in state goals, assessments, accountability systems and more.

For more information on Deeper Learning, click here.

Applicant Eligibility

CEPF applicants must meet the following criteria: 

  • Applicant(s) must be defined as nonprofit Section 501(c)(3) public charities or tax-exempt academic institutions. 
  • Organizations must be focused on K-12 and/or community college education policy issues that support Deeper Learning in the K-12 system and/or alignment between the K-12 system and higher education.
  • Applicants must have one or more of the following attributes:
    • A total or substantial focus on California education policy work
    • Expertise in California education policy work
    • A significant track record of substantial impact on state education policy
    • Well-developed plans to reform statewide education policies
  • Applicants are expected to apply independently. Partnerships will only be considered on an exceptional basis.

If selected, grantees must be able to provide annual reporting.  Grantees will also be required to send a leadership team member to participate in three one-day meetings, and at least two multi-day site visits/meetings per year as well as participate in CEPF evaluation efforts.

Applicant Categories

Applicants must fall into one of the below categories:

  • Organizations that are not currently CEPF grantees may apply for up to $200,000 per year, for up to three years.  Please note that past applicants that were not selected are eligible to re-apply in this grant cycle.
  • Cohort 1 CEPF grantees (originally funded in 2011) may apply for up to $50,000 as an addition to their final year of current funding. In addition, they can also apply for up to $200,000 per year for up to two additional years.
  • Cohort 2 CEPF grantees (originally funded in 2012) may apply for up to $50,000 per year as an addition to the two years remaining on their current grant. Additionally, they can also apply for up to $200,000 for one additional year.

Funding Criteria

Organizations are reviewed on the basis of the following criteria:

  • The extent to which the applicant organization has the potential to address and impact Deeper Learning education reform policy at the state level in California. Grantees should advance one or more of  the following five key policy goals:
    • Define and systematize a state goal of “college- and career-readiness” that is consistent with Deeper Learning outcomes;
    • Promote a state education system that provides personalized Deeper Learning to all students;
    • Establish comprehensive assessment systems to measure college- and career-readiness, including Deeper Learning education outcomes (including a priority goal of adoption and implementation of the SBAC tests including support for education technology that enables online assessment);
    • Anchor state accountability systems with college- and career-readiness, including Deeper Learning; and
    • Develop seamless pathways to college and career that involve greater coordination between K-12 and postsecondary systems around implementation of the Common Core and aligned assessments (SBAC).
  • The approach employed by the organization and how it fits with best practices for stated needs and outcomes.
  • A strong strategic plan for future work, supported by a well-reasoned, evidence-based theory of change and clear measurable indicators of progress
  • The extent to which the proposed work takes advantage of current federal, state, and local policy and legislative conditions and the state of public will.
  • Extent to which collaboration with, or accessing other, community resources has been incorporated into the organization’s plans to enhance internal skills, knowledge, reach, or impact.
  • The extent to which the organization has a history of collaboration and is willing to work with other CEPF grantee organizations.
  • Evidence that the applicant organization is well managed, fiscally responsible, and able to comply with all grant and ethical requirements.

Grant Review & Selection Process

RPA, in partnership with Capitol Impact, reviews all LOIs. Organizations that submit the most compelling statements are invited to submit full applications. All organizations that submit proposals are notified of whether or not they are awarded CEPF funds.

Full proposals are subject to a transparent, objective review based on the merits of the organization and the quality of its application by an independent Grant Award Advisory Committee. The Grant Award Advisory Committee consists of well-respected individuals with knowledge and experience in California education policy issues and the deeper learning landscape. The Grant Award Advisory Committee makes recommendations for funding to RPA, who is responsible for all final grant funding decisions as the fiscal sponsor of CEPF. 

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Ten grantees have been selected for CEPF's 2013 Cohort. Read the press release announcement for more information.