The Walton Family Foundation is one of the largest backers of school choice in the U.S., spending over $1 billion in the area so far. And that may just be a start, given a combined Walton family fortune of nearly $100 billion. Rob Walton's daughter Carrie has focused her career on education policy and is the family member most immersed in its giving to K-12 education — so what do we know about her?
Technology in Silicon Valley is ubiquitous. But there’s one place that’s struggled to keep up — the nation’s schools. Last October, the Silicon Schools Fund launched a $25 million fund designed to create new blended-learning schools in the Bay Area and solve that problem. Now it appears SSF is ready to make that happen.
As an education reform funder, The Doris and Donald Fisher Fund has always held a tight leash on their investments. A San Francisco Chronicle report described the Fishers as "philanthropists who give generously, selectively and privately — and expect results." That’s the way the Fishers wanted it, and it’s a legacy that continues to this day.
As far as charter funders go, The Louis Calder Foundation has remained mostly under the radar. But that doesn’t mean the Connecticut-based foundation isn’t giving to charter and parochial schools in a major way. In the last year, Calder’s grants have consistently ranked in the top in terms of size.
Over the course of nearly a decade, the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation awarded a little more than $16.5 million to the Charter School Growth Fund, according to a 2011 analysis by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. And it doesn’t look like Bradley is letting up the flow of capital anytime soon.
Scalability. When the late Donald Fisher focused on education philanthropy, that was his goal. To help expand a small network of high-performing schools into a nationwide brand. It makes sense too; Fisher started The Gap from a single store in 1969 and grew it into a global retail empire.
Oakland-based NewSchools Venture Fund, a major funder of charter management organizations and education entrepreneurs, recently entered into a partnership that will likely accelerate their charter giving in a big way. Education technology investor Rethink Education will share a portion of its profits with NewSchools.
When it comes to public advocacy for charter schools, parental involvement plays an important part. That’s the goal of GreatSchools.org — an online directory of education information and a parental network.
Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter plans to open its doors this fall on money from The Hebrew Charter School Center (HCSC). HCSC offers grants of up to $250,000 to found and maintain charter schools. It may sound odd at first that a Hebrew language school is opening in this area of the city, but similar HCSC-related projects have proved successful in the past.
Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) provided $1.5 million this month for Brooke Charter Schools. The investment will allow Brooke, a network of charter schools in the Boston area, to open two campuses in addition to their currently existing three.
The best case for charter schools is often made by parents of color who badly want better education options for their kids. The Walton Family Foundation clearly gets the power of minority voices speaking up for charter schools and is using its deep pockets to bankroll these voices and help them get better organized.
When I read it, I had to stop and ask myself, "Wait, what?" Earlier this year, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a huge donation — $1 million — for the L.A. School Board elections, funneling the donation through the political action committee Coalition for School Reform. It seemed a little out of place.