The potential for philanthropy to help shape the future of the American system of education has never been greater. Change is happening. But there is no guarantee that this change will result in improved and equitable educational outcomes for learners. Education funders must determine from an array of opportunities and needs where to focus their resources to leverage the change they hope to see in how our nation’s education system functions and serves learners going forward.

Where could funders make a difference now?

Grantmakers for Education (GFE) surveyed our members and others supporting education philanthropy to understand where they as individuals see the greatest opportunities for leveraging action in this quickly evolving reality. Our focus on capturing individual perspectives reflects our view that individual voice is a leading indicator of how institutional priorities and strategies may evolve. Reflecting back the outlook of individuals is especially critical during a time of rapid societal transformation.

Benefiting from the insights of a set of member advisors, we identified issues highly relevant to the current moment to home in on five interlocking themes we believe are central to the future of education:

  • Pre-K-12 Educational Improvement
  • Racial Justice in Education
  • Civic Education and Students
  • Postsecondary and Workforce Success
  • Philanthropy in an Inequitable System

Within these major themes, we identified a subset of 41 specific priority areas that could be rated on three criteria critical for assessing where education funders see the greatest potential for catalyzing change. (See “Thematic Priority Areas” for a complete listing of the 41 priority areas within each of the five major thematic areas.) These criteria include:

  • Urgency—Has addressing the priority area become more or less urgent in the current environment?
  • Opportunity—Is there an opportunity for systemic change in the priority area given the current environment?
  • Philanthropy—Is philanthropy an essential part of accelerating systemic change in the priority area?

Read the full PDF about education philanthropy at Grantmakers for Education.