Giving Compass’ Take:
• After Susana Cordova released her 100-day plan to improve Denver Public Schools, funders cannot agree on how family and community engagement can help achieve positive educational outcomes.
• A recent survey from Grantmakers for Education found that more than 60 percent of respondents provide funding for community and family engagement in education. However, funders in Denver do not agree that these outcomes should come from the district. How can foundations in Denver and other cities agree on funding priorities that will bring about better education reform?
A few months ago, Susana Cordova, the new superintendent of Denver Public Schools, released her one-hundred-day entry plan. Having survived a divisive selection process and a difficult teacher strike at the beginning of her tenure, Cordova took a moment to ask the question: “What does it take to ensure that every child in our city thrives?”
Recently, Grantmakers for Education released its Trends in Education Philanthropy Benchmarking Survey, which takes the pulse of and tracks trends in national education philanthropy. The results reflect a number of changes in education philanthropy, including a greater focus on the “whole learner,” as well as deeper investments in postsecondary education and workforce career readiness. A notable finding of the report is that among respondents to the survey, more than 60 percent provided funding for community and family engagement, and many anticipate growth in those investments over the next two years.
Three years ago, Rose Community Foundation launched Climb Higher Colorado to create a bridge between grassroots and “grasstops” organizing and high-impact family engagement strategies. Both the CEO Funders Collaborative and Climb Higher are thriving, but the reality is that not all funders, in Denver or nationally, view community engagement and family engagement as key to changing educational outcomes. Even more truthfully, many funders are uncomfortable with the notion that communities should bring solutions to us, rather than the other way around.
The Benchmarking Survey highlights the important and difficult question: “How will we navigate the challenge of sharing power with those who have historically had little, especially on occasions when their ideas differ from our own?” Which foundations have the appetite for and courage to take that risk?
Read the full article about education reform and philanthropy by Janet Lopez at PhilanTopic.
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