When the Covid-19 pandemic disruptions to K-12 schooling took an extraordinary toll on students and their parents, K-12 philanthropy responded. A range of efforts—from shifting project-specific grants to general operating funds to grants for computer equipment and connectivity and food, shelter, and school safety—have strived to remedy the losses and dislocations families experienced. What happens to philanthropy as we move into the post-pandemic phase?

We’re now entering a new phase of Covid-19—what former Food and Drug Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb describes as the transition from “an omnipresent virus into a manageable risk.” So as the pandemic becomes endemic, a new question arises: How should K-12 Philanthropy adapt to best respond to the landscape that Covid disruptions have left behind?

With this question in mind, I want to direct your attention to two major effects of the pandemic on education which ought to inform philanthropic efforts in education post-pandemic.

  1. The pandemic forced parents to assume direct responsibility for organizing their child’s learning.
  2. There was an unprecedented influx of federal funding into K-12 education.

What relevance do these facts hold for post-pandemic K-12 giving? There are two primary conclusions to be drawn

First: the family must remain at the center of K-12 philanthropy.

Covid-19 made the family—parents (or guardians) and children—the linchpin of K-12 schooling. This feature must remain “endemic.” That is, donors should continue to focus on the family as a formative institution by adopting a “two generation” approach to K-12 philanthropy. This means supporting initiatives that improve the lives of both parents and their children.

This approach coordinates programs and services across generations, aiming to move families to greater economic independence. It can include financial support for things like coaches or navigators who guide families through important decisions. On the K-12 level, for instance, it can involve helping parents make decisions about the best educational choice for that child through programs like EdNavigator or The Navigator that work with young people, their families, and support networks.

Second: donors should prioritize funding community organizations that advance a two-generation approach.

Since K-12 school districts are beneficiaries of that huge influx of new federal dollars, K-12 donors should direct the substance of their financial support to local community organizations outside the K-12 system rather than the school district bureaucracy. These current or newly created organizations can work with a local public school district and its schools when appropriate.

Read the full article about pandemic giving education philanthropy by Bruno Manno at Philanthropy Daily.