Wednesday, Apr 03

7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
7:45 a.m.
8:15 a.m.
Pre-visit overview

The Denver Landscape

  • Amy Anderson, Executive Director, ReSchool Colorado, Donnell-Kay Foundation

  • Christine DeLeon, Founder and CEO, Moonshot edVentures

  • Jonathan Hanover, Head of Marketplace, HopSkipDrive

8:45 a.m.
Departure for school site visits
8:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Site visits

These visits deviated from the schools-only itineraries of previous National Forums, maximizing homegrown ventures in a marketplace hamstrung by school facility challenges. Attendees broke into smaller groups to go into greater depth at each site.


View the five site visits here.

12:30 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
Site visit debrief
  • Amy Anderson, Executive Director, ReSchool Colorado, Donnell-Kay Foundation (Discussion Leader)

2:00 p.m.
4:00 - 5:10 p.m.
Opening plenary

Educating the Workforce of Tomorrow

To ensure students are prepared for employment and educators are teaching critical skills that adapt to demands of employers in the global economy, it’s essential that schools and businesses build sustainable partnerships with one another. Meredith Olson of The Seminar Network moderated a discussion with Harvin Moore of Frontera Ventures, who described his experience bringing a tech investor’s perspective to improve the Houston school system; Enviro Systems CEO Paul Campbell, who shared how he founded and designed a school from scratch to advance upward mobility, high expectations for students and teachers, and educational opportunities in rural Oklahoma; and Chris Terrill of Colorado's ANGI Homeservices which offers professional tech experience to high school students through CareerWise Colorado, the state’s largest apprenticeship program.

  • Paul Campbell, President and CEO, Enviro Systems 

  • Harvin Moore, Principal, Frontera Technology Ventures

  • Chris Terrill, Former CEO, ANGI Homeservices

  • Meredith Olson, Vice President of the K-12 Initiative, The Seminar Network (Moderator)


5:15 p.m.
Opening reception
6:30 p.m.
Donor-only salon dinners

We were excited to offer donors the opportunity to attend small-group salon dinners at several top-notch restaurants in Denver. Salon dinners consisted of a group of eight to fourteen donors engaged in a thought-provoking conversation around a specific topic.

Read more

Thursday, Apr 04

7:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Registration open
7:30 - 8:15 a.m.
Breakfast roundtable discussions

1. Importance of Summer Learning

  • Matthew Boulay, Founder and CEO, National Summer Learning Association

2. Parents Challenge: Empowering Parents with School Choice

  • Stephen Schuck, Chairman, Schuck Communities

3. “Future of School” and Catalyzing Learning with New Technologies

  • Amy Valentine, Executive Director, The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning

4. How One Tool Company is Promoting Skilled Trades Education

  • Robin Kramer, Managing Director, Smidt Foundation 

5. The Life-changing Power of Teacher-Student Mentorship

  • Joe Sanders, CEO, Colorado UpLift

6. UnlockED: Building Systems so all Students Achieve their Post-secondary Potential

  • Kimberly Hanauer, President, UnlockED

7. Strong District Leadership: Supporting the Tenacious Superintendent

  • Dale Chu, Senior Visiting Fellow, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute 

8. Classical Education: Coordinating a National Network of Wisdom and Virtue

  • Robert Jackson, Founding Director, Institute for Classical Education

8:15 a.m.
8:30 - 9:45 a.m.
Morning breakout sessions

Home-grown: Cultivating Quality and Access in Rural Communities

Educators in rural America face no shortage of challenges just to run the day-to-day operations of a school that often serves as a cornerstone of any rural community. From infrastructure to recruiting and retaining teachers, what are the most pressing challenges facing rural schools today? How can funders engage with rural communities and bolster the can-do spirit and resiliency of rural schools and communities?

  • Mallory Dwinal-Palisch, Co-founder and CEO, Oxford Day Academy and Oxford Teachers Academy

  • Nikki Johnson, Superintendent, Campo School District RE-6

  • Juliet Squire, Senior Associate Partner, Bellwether Education Partners

  • Cara Dingus-Brook, President and CEO, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (Moderator)


Working Side-by-Side: Venture Philanthropy and Positioning Grantees for Success

Building up risk tolerance and funding fortitude while mapping the flow of capital from philanthropy are challenges for any funder seeking to protect their investments. How does a venture philanthropy strategy help establish a healthy funder-grantee dynamic? Using an interactive exercise with audience participation, leadership from New Profit shared their venture philanthropic playbook and due diligence, and how they set up sustained impact in partnership with community organizations. 

  • Vanessa Kirsch, Founder and CEO, New Profit

  • Aaron Lieberman, Partner, Early Childhood Support Organization Initiative, New Profit


Academics and Well-being: Nurturing Support Networks for the Whole Family

All students, regardless of income or family circumstance, should be able to rely on strong support networks to reach their academic potential. How can school and wraparound services provide research-based frameworks that emphasize family support and go beyond cognitive and academic attainment? This session featured both donors and practitioners who demonstrated how philanthropy can foster partnerships between mission-aligned organizations that focus on the whole child.

  • Wally Kappeler, Executive Director, South Jersey First Star Collaborative

  • Heather Mock, Head of School, Compositive Primary

  • Ross Whiting, Director, Research and Evaluation, Senator Walter Rand Institute of Public Affairs, Rutgers University-Camden

  • Betsy Callaway Considine, Trustee, Considine Family Foundation (Moderator)

  • Fran Sykes, President, Pascale Sykes Foundation (Introduction)


Catholic Education Renewal: Donor-led Roundtable on Opportunities for Growth

Catholic education offers a unique value proposition compared to other schooling options, from faith formation to a commitment to serving the undeserved. Amid declining enrollment and school closures, what can philanthropists do to ensure families have access to a high-quality Catholic education? A local contingent of Catholic school funders in addition to those from across the country engaged in a roundtable discussion on several promising opportunities for spurring growth in Catholic education nationwide, and how funders can help Catholic schools consider new schooling and operational models, engage in public policy reform, and intentional talent development.

  • Courtney Collins-Shapiro, Partner, The Drexel Fund

  • Rosemary Vander Weele, Principal, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Classical School

  • Brittany Vessely, Executive Director, Catholic Education Partners

  • Joe Womac, President, Specialty Family Foundation (Discussion Leader)

9:45 a.m.
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Morning plenary

Education Reform at a Standstill

With the end of the No Child Left Behind era, the fatigue is palpable among many education funders who have become frustrated with below-satisfactory return on investment in accountability, policy, and school quality. Does America’s education reform movement need to pivot in a new direction? What is the role for funders to repair the disconnect between policy and school design and the needs of students and families? A panel of Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute; Robin Lake of the Center on Reinventing Public Education; Chris Stewart of the Wayfinder Foundation; and Caleb Offley of the Walton Family Foundation discussed the progress — or lack thereof — made in improving student outcomes from previous generations, and how funders can help recalibrate both policy and practice.

  • Frederick Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

  • Robin Lake, Director, Center on Reinventing Public Education

  • Chris Stewart, Founder and CEO, Wayfinder Foundation

  • Caleb Offley, Senior Advisor, K-12 Education Program, Walton Family Foundation (Moderator)

11:00 a.m.
11:15 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.
Mid-morning breakout sessions

Reaching the Struggling Student: Mental Health at Systemic and Classroom Levels

How can educators establish school culture, professional development, and classroom-level protocols that work towards improved mental health? How can funders and educators alike be responsive with mental health interventions that enable students to reach their full potential in later life? This session delved into the intersection between mental health and schooling, and the eye-opening statistics and research that show why strong mental health is such a critical lever for student success.

  • Andy Keller, President and CEO, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

  • Michael Lamb, Executive Director, Washington, D.C., Turnaround for Children

  • Mike Malkemes, Founder and CEO, Generation One

  • Jennifer Paradis Behle, Chief Executive, Chappell Culpeper Foundation (Moderator)


Proven Investment Strategies for Early Education and Child Development

Early childhood education occupies a unique space within philanthropy. Access to critical, high-quality instruction for children ages zero to three has the potential to create a ripple effect that spans multiple generations. How can funders identify promising early learning providers that are ready for investment and scale? Where can funders be proactive in promoting early learning and child development? This session featured diverse perspectives on effective investment strategies that foster quality for one of the most critical stages of a child’s development. 

  • Kate Kennedy Reinemund, Executive Director, Constellation Philanthropy

  • Sarah Walzer, CEO, ParentChild+

  • Judy Williams, Executive Director, Early Learning Ventures

  • Sue Renner, Vice President of Philanthropy, David and Laura Merage Foundations (Discussion Leader)


Experiential Learning Models: Connecting Student Passions with Real-World Experiences

Imagine a learning environment wherein students are working collaboratively to solve real-life corporate challenges from external partners, all the while obtaining viable workplace skills and tapping into their passions. How can educators give students more agency and freedom to design their own learning opportunities? How are the new market demands of parents and employers shaping new classroom designs? In this interactive session, attendees gained a sense of some of the experiential projects that students are experiencing through models such as 3DE, mindSpark, and Workspace Education.  

  • Catherine Fraise, Founder and Executive Director, Workspace Education

  • Jack Harris, President and CEO, 3DE

  • Kellie Lauth, CEO, mindSpark Learning

  • Scott Laband, President, Colorado Succeeds (Moderator)


Agents of Change: Parent Mobilization on Behalf of Students and Communities

Whether it’s an immigrant from West Africa speaking up at a school board meeting, a grassroots campaign to recruit high-quality schools, or an Aurora parent fighting for preschool resources, the Denver-Aurora metro area holds countless examples of parents finding their voices on behalf of their child’s education. In this session, attendees heard from the heads of three organizations that have proven track records of mobilizing and organizing parents to become effective advocates for educational opportunity. 

  • Veronica Crespin-Palmer, Co-founder and CEO, RISE Colorado

  • Papa Dia, Founder and Executive Director, African Leadership Group

  • Nicholas Martinez, Co-founder and Executive Director, Transform Education Now

  • Mary Seawell, Senior Vice President for Education, Gates Family Foundation (Moderator)

12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Closing luncheon

Signs of Hope in Puerto Rico: Conversation with Secretary Keleher

The National Forum culminated with an inspiring discussion featuring Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s former Secretary of Education. Secretary Keleher shared with attendees the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, the ongoing effort to infuse schools with rigor; accountability; quality curriculum; and professional development, as well as the management overhaul of the island’s education system. In addition to authorizing charter schools and disbursing school choice scholarships, Secretary Keleher continues to work tirelessly to make Puerto Rico an international model of bilingual education and best practices in school governance.  

  • Julia Keleher, Secretary, Puerto Rico Department of Education

  • David Scanavino, Board Member, Puerto Rico Education Foundation (Interviewer)

2:00 p.m.
Closing remarks