Foundations’ Role in Education Evolves
The Kauffman Foundation, a foundation devoted to education and entrepreneurship based in Kansas City, recently announced that they are committing $10M over ten years to start and manage a college prep (grades 5-12) charter school in fall 2011. Their rationale is based on their founder’s desire to be an “active foundation,” what they learned from their $112M scholarship investments, and their interest in directly intervening—i.e. not just writing checks and trying to “affect change from the outside”– in urban education in Kansas City.
Their hope in this new approach to education philanthropy is to inspire other donors to “actively guide the change they hope to see in their communities.” The Rodel Foundation of Delaware, while not managing charters, is actively engaged in the change we want to see in our state’s education. Rather than taking the approach of writing checks for programs, we have sought to be catalysts and incubators of statewide policy and best practice initiatives such as the Vision Network, Learning Link of Delaware, Innovative Schools (which will manage Delaware’s New Teacher Project and New York City Leadership Academy initiatives), and the new state assessment system. However, this approach comes with its challenges and the work is never wrapped up neatly in a bow. We continue to focus on sustaining organizations, ensuring they meet high expectations, and creating the policy environment in which they can thrive.