In 2007, civic and philanthropic leaders founded the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools to transform some of the city’s highest-need, lowest-performing schools. Eleven years later, schools in the Partnership network have made notable improvements, with much more substantial gains in student performance relative to other schools in the state. This report from Public Impact examines the Partnership’s unique “in-district” model for school turnarounds and the findings from an analysis of student academic data to understand how the Partnership has addressed the significant challenges facing low-resource schools.
Philanthropy in Education
Leading Charlotte foundations formed a funding collaborative to support a five-year district turnaround initiative to dramatically improve educational outcomes for students in the West Charlotte High School corridor, one of the city’s lowest-performing feeder zones. The “Project L.I.F.T.” initiative involves four areas of education intervention: increasing teacher effectiveness; extending learning time; increasing access to and use of technology; and engaging parents and the community in schools. This report examines the genesis of the Project L.I.F.T. initiative, the partnership between the district and private and corporate philanthropists, and strategies to achieve improved graduation rates, student performance, and student growth in the Project L.I.F.T. learning community. Just past the midway point in implementation, the report also considers Project L.I.F.T.’s early successes, impact on the district, and lessons learned. Download the Full Report or the Executive Summary.
A better, bigger, broader charter school sector—that’s what the U.S. needs to meet students’ needs in a competitive and interconnected world, this report says. Twenty-five years after the first charter law was enacted in Minnesota, the public charter school sector has helped spark significant public education improvements, particularly for urban students and students of color. But the U.S. lags behind other developed countries in student achievement, about 1 million students are on charter school waiting lists nationwide, and many student groups are still underserved by all public schools, traditional and charter. This report, co-authored by The Mind Trust and Public Impact, calls on all involved in charter schools to make the sector better, broader, and bigger in order to expand its reach and meet the students’ needs—which will require innovation that breaks the mold of most schools today. The report recommends various steps charter school operators, policymakers, city-based education organizations, and philanthropic funders may take to spur more innovation in the sector.
Commissioned by Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) in 2010, this report examines how philanthropic organizations in four American cities—Albany, N.Y.; Denver, Colo.; Harlem, N.Y.; and Houston, Tex.—have affected the charter sector. This scan includes information about how a select number of philanthropic organizations in each city developed their investment strategies, made investment decisions, and evaluated the impact their investments are having on public education. [Read more…]
This report, co-authored by the organization now known as Education Cities and Public Impact, profiles three high-impact city-based organizations that are taking significant strides toward reforming their cities’ education systems: The Mind Trust in Indianapolis, New Schools for New Orleans, and The Skillman Foundation in Detroit. Through these organizations’ efforts, the report identifies a core set of lessons learned for leaders in other cities: (1) Find the right leader or leadership team; (2) Embrace strategies and theories of change that reflect local markets; (3) Develop a bold, comprehensive plan for reform; (4) Grow talent pipelines; (5) Support a strong, high-quality charter sector; (6) Invest in innovation; and, (7) Engage stakeholders in the community to accelerate reform.
Drawing on lessons learned from cities trying to kick-start a new charter market, as well as from some of the most developed markets in the country, this white paper offers guidance for philanthropies on how to invest wisely as part of a city-based strategy. It also identifies potentially high-yield investments in the charter sector. This white paper is part of a three-piece series continuing the discussion from a National Charter School Resource Center / U.S. Department of Education conference exploring emerging city-based movements that embrace high-quality charters as an integral component of their reform strategy.
In this report, authors Bryan Hassel and Daniela Doyle note that to improve upon the successes of entrepreneurial providers and raise student achievement, more districts and states must be willing to give new education services a chance. Districts, however, are hesitant to hand over schools and school functions to outsiders. The authors suggest that performance guarantees, similar to car warranties or a home builder’s bonded contracts, could provide an incentive for districts to experiment with new services by shifting risk from the district to the provider. The report explores a range of design issues that districts, providers, and investors could work through as they set up viable performance guarantees.