Education Week - August 29, 2012 - (Page 8)

8 EDUCATION WEEK n AUGUST 29, 2012 n INDUSTRY & INNOVATION > Tracking business trends and emerging models in K-12 Local Foundations Shifting Their Education Missions By Christina A. Samuels For decades, the 50-year-old Donnell-Kay Foundation, a family-based private philanthropy in Denver, saw its work as parceling out grants of $5,000 to $10,000 to nonprofit groups throughout the community. But that “quiet and sleepy” mode of operation started to change about 12 years ago, says Tony Lewis, the organization’s executive director. When Mr. Lewis was hired in 2000, it was with the express purpose of honing the foundation’s focus on education. Donnell-Kay now sees itself not just as a grant provider, but also as a catalyst for driving the education improvement conversation in Colorado. That role offers the small foundation, with an endowment of about $28 million, much more potential influence than giving out small, individual grants. National Network The Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust is a 2-year-old coalition of 23 city-based foundations, nonprofits, and mayors’ offices that support efforts to improve local schools through charter school incubation, blended-learning instructional models, and leadership development. The member organizations share strategies and offer assistance to other community groups around the country that are interested in creating similar programs. 1 THE ARIZONA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION Phoenix 2 THE ROGERS FAMILY FOUNDATION Oakland, Calif. 3 THE OFFICE OF MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON Sacramento, Calif. 4 THE DONNELL-KAY FOUNDATION Denver 5 INNOVATIVE SCHOOLS Wilmington, Del. 6 THE RODEL FOUNDATION OF DELAWARE Wilmington, Del. 7 THE MIND TRUST Indianapolis 3 2 4 10 15 ? 19 14 13 18 5 9 7 2 6 22 11 12 17 1 23 20 21 8 8 NEW SCHOOLS FOR NEW ORLEANS New Orleans 9 THE SKILLMAN FOUNDATION Detroit, Mich. 10 CHARTER SCHOOL PARTNERS Minneapolis 11 THE KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION Kansas City, Mo. 12 OFFICE OF THE MAYOR St. Louis 13 NEWARK CHARTER SCHOOL FUND Newark, N.J. 14 BLUE RIDGE FOUNDATION NEW YORK New York 15 EXPANDING EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE ROCHESTER Rochester, N.Y. 16 THOMAS B. FORDHAM INSTITUTE Dayton, Ohio 17 GEORGE KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION Tulsa, Okla. 18 PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP Philadelphia 19 RHODE ISLAND MAYORAL ACADEMIES Providence, R.I. 20 THE HYDE FAMILY FOUNDATIONS Memphis, Tenn. 21 TENNESSEE CHARTER SCHOOL INCUBATOR Memphis, Tenn. 22 OFFICE OF THE MAYOR METROPOLITAN NASHVILLE & DAVIDSON COUNTY Nashville, Tenn. 23 THE TEACHING TRUST Dallas SOURCE: The Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust Exerting Leverage Driven by national trends in the economy and in philanthropy, other city-based foundations are going through the same shift in focus as the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Instead of serving as passive boosters of their communities’ traditional public school systems, these organizations see themselves driving a discussion around transformation and innovation that is, they say, agnostic on how schools themselves are governed. For example, Mr. Lewis serves on the steering committee of the Colorado School Finance Partnership, which released a report this month that recommends a major overhaul of the state’s funding formula for schools. By helping convene such conversations, the foundation can leverage the $1 million or so that it spends each year into potentially influencing how billions of other dollars are spent in education. “We look around in places we think we can make a difference in education, we’ll research these issues, and we’ll bring people together for critical thought,” Mr. Lewis said. And as such philanthropies change their mode of operation, they are banding together: Several city-based foundations, includ- ing Donnell-Kay, are a part of a 2-year-old coalition called the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust, or cee-Trust, which allows them to share resources and ideas. cee-Trust this month released a report intended to guide leaders who want to launch education overhauls in their own cities. “There’s a national consensus among reformers that we need to really step up our efforts,” said Ethan Gray, the director of ceeTrust, based in Indianapolis. “For a long time, we’ve funded nice programs—not to take anything away from programs that stuff backpacks with food, or tutoring Q&A: How Facebook Money Is Used for Newark Schools By Jason Tomassini When Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive officer, announced from Oprah Winfrey’s couch two years ago that he would donate $100 million to Newark, N.J., schools, there was little indication from the crowd’s cheers and grins from Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just how complex the process of spending that money would be. Mr. Zuckerberg’s donation was a challenge grant, Gregory Taylor meaning Newark could only spend a dollar of his money once it received a dollar from someone else. And all the money is collected and allocated through the Foundation for Newark’s Future, a nonprofit organization with a wide variety of stakeholders on its board of directors and only a five-year window for raising and spending the money. Plus, the money can be spent only on six focus areas determined by the foundation’s board: early-childhood education, out-of-school youths, teacher quality, Common Core State Standards implementation, school options, and community engagement. So far, about $50 million has been raised (and, thus, matched, putting $100 million at the foundation’s disposal) and $16 million spent. In a recent interview with Education Week, Gregory Taylor, the president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Newark’s Future and a veteran of large national foundations, discussed how to manage those moving parts within the new landscape of high-stakes philanthropy. So how exactly do the donation and the allocation work? So first, what was really important from our perspective: that the new philanthropy was not to use or draw from existing foundation dollars to unlock the Zuckerberg money. Newark is struggling like many urban centers for philanthropic dollars. We didn’t want to take money from existing community-based organizations because we had this challenge. There’s two ways in which money comes into the fund. First are direct contributions to us as an organization, and then as those dollars come in, they are then matched [through Mr. Zuckerberg’s donation], and we use the revenue to invest in those six strategies and promising programs in Newark. The second is that it has to be specifically focused in Newark. So when money is put into a teacher-development program that we think is quality, the dollars that the donor has put into that organization would also unlock matching money from our fund. And then those unlocked dollars are distributed between the six strategies that we’ve talked about. What’s the relationship between the state, which controls the school district, the foundation, the school system, and the mayor? How are all those people influencing the decisionmaking? The state, the mayor, philanthropies, and others, we certainly work very closely in partnership, but we’re an independent organization with our own governance board like any other foundation. And so, ultimately, the dollars that are invested are approved after our staff brings compelling and thoughtful investment opportunities to the board to decide. This is true of a lot of urban districts, but Newark’s budget is in bad shape. What are the conversations like around using this money to fund stopgap measures to get the district’s budget in better shape, rather than trying to fund things like innovation or reform? None of our investors, nor I, would be interested in throwing good money after bad, so there’s no desire to fill stopgaps. But we did provide a very significant grant to a financial audit, we funded a significant grant on the human-capital-pipeline issue, and out of that comes learning and lessons that provide a road map for improving the district’s operational excellence. We’re not funding stopgaps to fix roofs on buildings or replace textbooks, even though those are critically important infrastructure expenses. But the notion that we can tighten up the financial gaps in the systems in place and the management structures is a really prudent investment. I do get asked a lot to help with stopgaps, both from parents and

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - August 29, 2012

Education Week - August 29, 2012
FOCUS ON: AGE: Districts Adjust To Growth in Older Population
Catholic Ed., K-12 Charters Squaring Off
Advocacy Tactics Found To Differ by Families’ Class
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Educator Cadres Formed to Support Common Tests
Ala. Blocked From Asking About Students’ Citizenship Status
Most Students Still Not College-Ready, ACT Report Finds
Study: Vouchers Linked to College-Going For Black Students
NSF Awards Grants for Climate-Change Education
Blogs of the Week
Ed. Dept. Gears Up to Manage NCLB Waiver Oversight
Poll Hints Tight Presidential Race on K-12
Policy Brief
PETER GOW: Let the Dialogue Begin: It’s Time for Independent Schools to Start Sharing What They Know
PATRICK J. MURPHY & ELLIOT M. REGENSTEIN: Trimming the Cost Of Common-Core Implementation
MALCOLM GAULD: Sowing Parents’ Role In Character Development
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
MIKE SCHMOKER: The Next Education Fad: Complex Teacher Evaluations That Don’t Work

Education Week - August 29, 2012