Giving Compass' Take:

• Sarah Darville and Matt Barnum report the known details of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's $300 million push to reshape schools through personalized learning. 

• Should the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative be more transparent in their giving? How can other funders learn from their work?

• Learn about the education failures of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has given away millions to groups working to “personalize” learning, reshape teacher training, and diversify the ranks of education leaders. But the full scope of that giving hasn’t been clear.

Now, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is putting a number on it: The organization has given $308 million in education grants since January 2016, when CZI took its current form. After inquiries from Chalkbeat, the organization provided that total, which has not been previously disclosed, as well as details of 19 specific grants.

The numbers offer new perspective on a philanthropy that has quickly become one of the biggest in U.S. education, thrusting itself into the ongoing debate over the appropriate role for private dollars in education policy. They also offer hints about how broadly CZI may try to extend its philanthropy in the years to come, as Zuckerberg’s billions position the organization to become even more influential. The Facebook founder, whose net worth is currently estimated at over $60 billion, is poised to transfer up to $13 billion to CZI by early 2019.

CZI’s education work is at an inflection point. Its head, former Obama administration official Jim Shelton, said in July that he was leaving the post. His replacement stands to become one of the most influential figures in education policy.

As for its past giving, CZI is being more open than it has ever been by providing the new data. But the organization remains one of the least transparent funders in education.

CZI’s giving includes expanding the use of technology in schools so that students can learn at their own pace or teachers can closely track student progress. CZI has also defined personalized learning as including “social-emotional and interpersonal skills, mental and physical health, and a child’s confident progress toward a sense of purpose,” as Shelton put it in 2017.

CZI has funded personalized learning efforts directly in a variety of places: statewide in Rhode Island ($1.5 million), in more than 100 Chicago-area schools ($14 million), and in a small district in California, Lindsay Unified ($775,000).

Read the full article about the $300 million push to reshape schools by Sarah Darville and Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat.