K-12 Education

Don’t Surrender the Academy

To the chagrin of reformers, the way that it stands 'blowing up' our existing schools of education is just not a viable option: The case for donors to get involved with schools of education. 

Suing for Reform

An education donor went to court; will other givers and other causes follow? 

Remarkable Achievements in Education Philanthropy

More philanthropic donations are channeled into education than to any other sector of American society except religion. This list of Major Achievements of American Philanthropy highlights education. 

School Magic

Since 1998, 139,000 students have had their life courses altered by the Children’s Scholarship Fund, a program created by donors. In her new book Opportunity and Hope, Naomi Schaefer Riley brings us the stories of ten of the students who benefited from this effort.

Excellent Educators: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Cultivating Great Teachers and Principals

The strongest influence on whether a student learns (and how much) is the teacher. This new guidebook by Laura Vanderkam explains if we want to improve schools, we must raise the quality of teachers.

Politics and Education Reform

When Bill Gates spoke at the American Enterprise Institute in March, he noted that money alone cannot fix education woes. Having realized this, the Gates Foundation spent three years looking closely at the mechanics of teaching.

Charter School Performance Breakout

"The oft-heard claim that charters perform no better than conventional schools is out of date and inaccurate." In this recent Wall Street Journal article, Karl Zinsmeister explains why today's philanthropy-driven charter school boom may be one of the most important movements of our age. 

From Promising to Proven: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Expanding on the Success of Charter Schools

Charter schooling may be the most important social innovation of our age, and it is just beginning to bloom. This new guidebook provides facts, examples, and practical experience that donors will need as charter schooling shifts gears from promising experiment to mainstream movement.

Closing America’s High-achievement Gap: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Helping Our Most Talented Students

During the last two decades, philanthropists and education reformers have made urgent efforts to pull weak students up to levels of basic competency. Meanwhile, though, children at the other end of the achievement spectrum have gotten lost in the shuffle. This intriguing book by Andy Smarick makes a powerful case for a sorely needed U.S. educational improvement that has been almost entirely overlooked.

Mediocrity Be Gone

The Relay Graduate School of Education is revolutionizing teacher training.  

Total Redesign

Think your only option for reforming public education is to nibble around the edges? Not anymore. A cohort of education reformers frustrated with the pace of progress in school districts are pushing for new, decentralized, portfolio-based systems that would increase autonomy, improve budgeting, and enhance choices for parents.

Mission Possible: How Charter Schools Can Start-Up, Scale, and Succeed

At The Philanthropy Roundtable’s 2013 National Forum on K-12 Philanthropy, Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools discussed the creation, growth, and outsized political influence of Success Academy.

Magna Charter

The traditional urban public school system is broken. It cannot be fixed. It must be replaced. In this Reviews and Commentary piece, Andy Smarick argues that American public education cannot thrive until the existing urban school district is replaced by the charter ethic.

Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching

Few innovations in education today offer as much potential to transform how students are educated as the rise blended learning. The Philanthropy Roundtable’s guidebook by Laura Vanderkam explores this crucial new field and the rich opportunities for brave and savvy givers to lead the education establishment toward a more excellent future.

Blended Learning Resources

Along with our new Blended Learning guidebook, we have compiled resources—from the best videos to books, blogs, and more—to help better acquaint you with today’s most promising experiments in K–12 education.

They Shall Overcome

Meet the K–12 reform donors who strategically balance charitable giving, legislative advocacy, and direct political engagement. Philanthropy editor-in-chief Christopher Levenick reports in this cover story from our Spring issue on K-12 giving.

Interview with Eli Broad, the Investor

When it comes to re-imagining how America's children can learn, Eli and Edythe Broad are among the nation's most visionary philanthropists. Their investments range across the full spectrum of educational reform, from advocacy to personnel to technology. Take a look at our interview with Broad, in which he details progress on his efforts to dramatically improve American K–12 education.

Interview with Betsy DeVos, the Reformer

For years, Betsy DeVos has been at the forefront of the educational-reform movement. Today, as chairman of the American Federation for Children, she is pushing to promote parental choice in American public education. In this feature interview, DeVos explains how she is working to make it possible for all of the nation's parents—regardless of their zip code—to find the right school for their children.

Interview with Michelle Rhee

Former Chancellor of Schools for the District of Columbia Michelle Rhee spoke with Philanthropy magazine about her work with StudentsFirst and the crucial role of issue advocacy in education reform.

Common Core’s Uncommon Rise

Released in 2010, the Common Core Standards are the first set of shared, nationwide, grade-by-grade benchmarks for what students are expected to learn. Liam Julian details how philanthropists helped create a movement for national standards.

Lessons in Citizenship

American students are increasingly ignorant of American civics, notes Naomi Schaefer Riley. Fortunately, a few private donors have taken the lead in the effort to restore a healthy appreciation for the Founding principles.

About K-12 Education Programs

Dedicated reformers have made remarkable gains in improving K-12 education over the past two decades, from expanding high-performing charter school networks to investing in excellent teachers and school leaders. Strategic philanthropy has been one of the most effective tools in advancing these breakthroughs. The Philanthropy Roundtable seeks to further increase and improve K-12 education reform philanthropy by connecting thought-leaders, practitioners, and donors with one another.

Blending, Upending

Is blended learning the disruptive innovation of K–12 reform? Check out this preview from The Philanthropy Roundtable’s new guidebook “Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching” by Laura Vanderkam.

Mr. Unreasonable

Eli Broad sits down with Philanthropy magazine to discuss his giving to medical research, modern art, and K–12 education.

Sal Khan Talks

The way students learn in traditional classrooms is beginning to change. With philanthropic support, Sal Khan and his colleagues at the Khan Academy are integrating self-paced computerized tutorials with live instruction and daily computerized assessment in model schools, and the results could revolutionize teaching.

Growing Up Fast

Jay Mathews reports on the dramatic success of Houston’s two largest charter school networks, KIPP and YES. By 2017 they intend to be serving roughly 15 percent of all Houston public school students. Will Houston’s charter school expansion revolutionize urban education?

Lasting Investments in Education

Chester Finn Jr., president and CEO of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, names the current, private, charitable investments in education that people will be talking about a century from now. Read this special excerpt from our Winter 2011 symposium.

Five Achievable Breakthroughs in K–12 Education

The breakthroughs in education reform over the past several years are well known: Teach For America has provided leadership for the K–12 education reform movement, and charter schools like KIPP and YES Prep are on their way to scale. But what will the breakthroughs of the next decade be? And how will they build on past achievements? At a Philanthropy Roundtable conference in Houston, donors laid out the game plan for new breakthroughs.

An Episcopalian, an Atheist, and a Jew Walk into a Catholic School. . .

No, it’s not the setup to a joke. Donors of many faiths (and none at all) are stepping up to support America’s inner-city Catholic schools. Why? Because they see these schools as a vital national resource. For these non-Catholic “patron saints” of Catholic schools, it’s all about giving at-risk children a chance to achieve.

Minding the Gap

How can American colleges create the next generation of leading scientists and engineers? Freeman Hrabowski discusses the importance of elevating academic achievement and developing successful math and science education at The Philanthropy Roundtable’s recent annual spring K–12 event.


The Almanac
of American

A compendium of the Great Donors, Great Achievements, Great Ideas, and Latest Facts on private giving in the U.S.