The Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation’s grantmaking in education is primarily focused on empowering young people from low-income backgrounds to achieve their educational and professional goals.

We invest in programs focused on college persistence that provide support to students pursuing a four-year, post-secondary degree and ultimately help them reach graduation. We also invest in programs that provide support for broader post-secondary pathways, including two-year degrees and career and workforce training programs. Our investments in education are both local to Washington, D.C., as well as national in scale.

We also invest in higher-education programs that prepare young people for careers in public service and government. Through these select strategic partnerships, we seek to empower future leaders to have a positive impact on local, national, and global public policy.

Why are we primarily focused on pathways to and through college?

Despite national increases in high school graduation and college enrollment, college completion rates for low-income students and students of color remain persistently low. Bachelor’s degree attainment rates in the U.S. have only increased from 6% to 11% for low-income students over the last 30 years, compared with an increase from 40% to 58% for high-income students. In addition, the path to a four-year degree is not always straightforward — there are now more students who have started and left college without a degree than students who have failed to complete high school in the U.S.

Earning a college degree is perhaps the most important pathway to earning a life-sustaining wage and breaking the inequity cycle. Bachelor’s degree holders have 74% higher earnings over their lifetimes than peers with only a high school diploma.1

The journey to and through college and into a thriving career is a challenging multi-step process. Many providers are necessary to support students as they navigate college and career milestones. Continued innovation is also needed to design and scale solutions to help close the gaps in college completion rates for low-income students and students of color.

How do we achieve our goals?

The Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation invests in new ideas, technologies, and approaches with the potential to increase career readiness, broaden the pathways to college, and vastly scale evidence-based college completion interventions. We are also committed to replicating and scaling existing college completion programs with proven results.

Select Grant Recipients

Carol and Gene Ludwig Hall

Carol and Gene Ludwig Hall was dedicated in 2022 and serves as the home for the Tsai Leadership Program at Yale Law School. The program’s new space sits adjacent to the Courtyard in what was formerly known as “The Cottages” in the heart of the Law School campus and houses The Tsai Leadership Program and its two pillars, the Michael S. and Alexa B. Chae Initiative in Private Sector Leadership and the Carol and Gene Ludwig Program in Public Sector Leadership.

Horizon Scholarship Program

The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program erases tuition for Yale Law School students with the greatest financial need. Students who meet the financial requirements will automatically receive the scholarship, starting with the 2023, 2024, and 2025 classes and continuing into the future. Yale is one of only two law schools in the country to provide aid based exclusively on financial need, and students graduate with the lowest debt load among all of its peer schools. Scholarships will be given to J.D. students whose family income is below the federal poverty guidelines and whose assets are below $150,000. Students who qualify will be awarded more than $70,000 per year to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and health insurance. The Ludwigs were one of three founding donors to this program.

The Carol and Gene Ludwig Program in Public Sector Leadership

The program at Yale Law School is designed to educate the next generation of public sector leaders with the skills they need to make a positive difference in the lives of others. The program is founded by Gene Ludwig ’73 and Carol Ludwig. The Ludwig Program provides focused professional support to Yale Law students who are interested in leadership roles in the public sector in areas such as government, nonprofits, and other institutions focused on serving the public. The mission of the Ludwig Program is to ensure that students are capable of translating principle into practice; can display a firm grasp of the political, economic, civic, and operational dimensions of policy work; and are well equipped to engage in ethical reflection and decision making. The program is based on the notion that those who serve in the public sector should be flexible, big-picture thinkers who make empirically grounded decisions and are deeply committed to a vibrant democracy and the well-being of others.

CityTutor DC

Founded in spring 2021 by CityBridge Education in response to the pandemic’s disruption of multiple school years, CityTutor DC is a coalition of schools, community organizations, and city leaders aiming to overcome the educational impacts of the pandemic by expanding access to high-impact tutoring to 10,000+ kindergarten-8th grade students. High-impact tutoring is delivered one-on-one or in small group settings with a trained tutor who meets frequently and consistently with students, often at one of CityTutor DC’s “Hubs,” which serve as a gathering space for students and trained tutors to build trusted partnerships as students grow in their academic achievement. CityTutor DC provides the funding, training, tools, and collaboration to ensure Hubs are successful and meet the needs of every student. CityTutor DC also hosts “Design Sprints” to support schools and community-based organizations in designing and implementing high-impact tutoring in their daily work.

CityWorks DC

Originally incubated by CityBridge Education, CityWorks DC is devoted to reshaping the landscape of education and career development opportunities for DC youth and young adults of color to improve their social and economic mobility by launching a targeted set of innovative programs that work directly with young people and by leading systems-level initiatives that create the conditions for CityWorks DC’s programs and others to thrive and spark citywide reform across K12, postsecondary, and employment systems. In Fall 2020, with the support of the Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation and in conjunction with the Federal City Council, CityWorks DC launched a three-year youth apprenticeship program for DC high schoolers known as CareerWise DC that places young people in high-wage, in-demand occupations in fields like Information Technology, Business Operations, and Financial Services. The original pilot included 14 youth apprentices from 4 high schools and 6 employers and has since expanded to include more than 30 additional youth apprentices with plans to add new cohorts each year. In addition to receiving training and compensation to do meaningful work and accessing valuable professional networks, apprentices also have the opportunity to earn college credit while completing the program.

KIPP DC Dual Enrollment Program

In partnership with Trinity Washington University, KIPP DC’s dual-enrollment program gives current high school students the opportunity to enroll in college level coursework and earn college credit. Our investment helps cover the cost of tuition, transportation and educational supplies and has significantly expanded the opportunity to more students as well as the variety of course offerings available.

KIPP National Nudge Texting Pilot

Initially launched in eight KIPP regions in 2019, this pilot program was the first of its kind to leverage nudge technology with artificial intelligence (AI) to support college matriculation and persistence with a national network of students attending many universities. Using the platform Mainstay, KIPP sends personalized, institution-specific nudges to KIPP alumni and is also able to generate automatic responses to common questions and elevate responses most in need of immediate follow up from a KIPP advisor. Nudge texting has expanded to 20 participating KIPP regions in 2021 and has become a critical component of sustainably scaling KIPP’s comprehensive alumni support program.

KIPP DC Persistence Fellowship

A two-year, full-time fellowship program designed to engage recent college graduates who train under the supervision and guidance of seasoned alumni advisors to ensure that KIPP DC alumni receive outstanding coaching and guidance, with the goal that alumni persist and stay on track to complete their college degrees. Fellows provide a caseload of KIPP DC alumni with transformational coaching, mentorship, and direct support through one-on-one advising sessions and on-campus visits, helping KIPP DC’s alumni support program, KIPP Forward, scale its efforts to support a growing number of KIPP DC alumni who are pursuing college.

KIPP Persistence Funds

Founded as a pilot program at KIPP DC in 2014, the Carol and Eugene Ludwig College Persistence Fund awards one-time emergency grants to KIPP DC alumni currently enrolled in college who are experiencing financial challenges that may cause them to drop out or take time off. In 2018, the Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation worked in partnership with KIPP Foundation to establish The KIPP National Ludwig College Persistence Fund, which expanded the emergency grants program to alumni from five additional KIPP regions: Bay Area, Memphis, NYC, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Thanks to the success of these pilots, KIPP further expanded access to the resource to all KIPP regions in 2020. KIPP has awarded over 1,700 microgrants and 91% of recipients of recipients are persisting in or have graduated from college.

NAF: Be Future Ready

NAF partners with high-need communities to improve outcomes for students by implementing NAF academies — small learning communities within existing high schools with STEM-infused, industry-specific curricula and work-based learning experiences, including internships. In addition to general operating support, the Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation has also provided targeted support to explore strategies for increased partnership between NAF and KIPP, design NAF’s Career & College Readiness Index (CCRI) curriculum, and track and evaluate the program’s impact on NAF alumni.

New Futures

The Friedman-Ludwig Scholarship provides the financial support for New Future scholars to earn the quick postsecondary credentials necessary to propel young people in the Washington, DC region into in-demand careers that lead to financial security. The Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation also supported the launch of the Health Sciences Career Pathways Program, which is designed to bridge the opportunity and network gaps that persist for young people pursuing family-sustaining careers in nursing, emergency medical services, and other related industries through advising and career resources beyond their postsecondary journeys.