A philanthropic victim of corporate downsizing, the AT&T Foundation will no longer accept unsolicited proposals for its school technology grants program. As a result, more than $25 million in funds will be directed primarily to those schools and other entities that already have received AT&T grants.

The unannounced policy shift is related to a corporate downsizing. The foundation’s staff is so reduced it can no longer handle the high volume of requests for grants, said Marilyn Reznick, the foundation’s vice president of education.

The change is important to education. The AT&T Foundation has been popular among school technology fund raisers precisely because it traditionally has accepted unsolicited proposals year-round. The foundation’s board of directors is considered active, meeting every month to consider proposals and make granting decisions.

The foundation has been a major donor for education technology. The 1998 budget for education grants is $14 million, doubling last year’s awards. Of that amount, $10 million will be awarded through AT&T’s Learning Network, a program started in 1995 to help schools fund teacher training and develop on-line educational materials.

Now the foundation will no longer accept proposals from grant seekers. Instead, the foundation will invite applications from its pool of existing grantees. AT&T still will seek out some first-time programs, Reznick said, identifying prospects through news media accounts of worthwhile projects and by word-of-mouth reports.