More philanthropic donations are channeled into education than to any other sector of American society except religion. That’s been true since we were just a collection of settlements and not yet a nation. Our first college, donor supported, was created in 1636—nearly as early as our first permanent towns. America’s initial public schools for children, funded by private investors who wanted to make “New Amsterdam” attractive to additional residents, opened in the 1640s. American philanthropy created many of the greatest libraries in the world, beginning when we were a mere colony. From the seventeenth century right into the twenty-first, from preschool through independent research institutions, private giving has catalyzed many of our best educational innovations, deepened knowledge, and enhanced its sharing across our nation.
— Section research provided by Karl Zinsmeister, Connor Ewing, Scott Walter, Evan Sparks