From McCormick to Stone: What Sara Slaughter Brings as a New Executive Director

The W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation has a habit of bringing in powerful education leaders to steer its grantmaking. Tony Smith made a pit stop at the foundation, serving as its executive director, between jobs as Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District in California and being appointed as Illinois State Superintendent of Education.

Now, there’s a new education leader in charge of the Stone Foundationa familiar name that we’ve encountered often in our coverage of Chicago’s McCormick Foundation.

Related: IP’s Profile of the McCormick Foundation’s Chicago Giving

Sara Slaughter stepped into Stone’s executive director role in the summer of 2015 to replace Tony Smith. At McCormick, she was the director of the education program and oversaw over $50 million in grants over the last decade. Let’s learn a bit about Stone’s new leader, what she brings to the foundation, and how she can help it accomplish its philanthropic mission.

Early Childhood Education

Slaughter is a well-established and respected leader in Chicago for early childhood education and funding. This works out well, because one of Stone’s grantmaking priorities is early childhood development. Slaughter is credited with promoting equity in birth-to-third-grade education, and this is definitely her big area of expertise. She chaired the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, served on the board of Grantmakers for Children Youth and Families, and participated in the White House Summit on early childhood education.

Does that mean we'll see a shift toward more early education program funding by Stone for kids between ages 0–8 in the upcoming grant cycles? We'll be watching. 

Recent Stone Foundation Support

In Chicago, here’s where Stone's early childhood development grants have gone so far in 2015:

  • Action for Children ($90,000): Illinois Action for Children will continue the Grassroots Leadership and Organizing Initiative (GLOI) for FY2015 policy and advocacy activities.
  • Erikson Institute ($100,000): The Erikson Institute will expand the impact of school partnerships by building networks to promote comprehensive and self-sustaining leadership for high quality PreK-3rd grade.
  • Erikson Institute ($100,000): Erikson Institutes Family Child Care Specialist Training project will enhance its online training modules and develop a tool to assess and improve the quality of relationship-based services to family child care.
  • Ounce of Prevention Fund ($25,000): The Ounce of Prevention Fund will improve outcomes for at-risk children and families through Educare’s high-quality early learning programs.
  • Ounce of Prevention Fund ($150,000): Ounce of Prevention Fund Educare Follow-Up Study will gather data from graduates and their families to refine its program and inform the field.

Teacher and Principal Training

However, a huge part of Stone’s focus is on teacher and principal training, which is a hot issue in Chicago these days.

Related: Are Grants for Principal Training Making a Difference in Chicago Schools?

While much of the teacher and principal training focus has been on K–12 lately, the Stone Foundation also sees a need for better leadership at the preschool level. Even Stone’s scholarship program has funded programs that promise to increase the number of people working in early childhood development and build leadership development in the field.

To stay in tune with the board’s intentions, Slaughter and her staff will need to keep the adults involved in early education organizations in mind just as much as the kids. To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s Profile of the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone’s Chicago Grantmaking