Fund for Public Schools

OVERVIEW: This funder awards grants to NYC public schools and acts as a connector between the NYC Department of Education and other foundations. Computer science and Pre-K are top priorities.

FUNDING AREAS: NYC public schools, computer science education, Pre-K education, K-12 education

IP TAKE: Most the funds here go to the Department of Education, not directly to local schools. A leadership change is underway, however, so stay tuned.  

PROFILE: The Fund for Public Schools is a unique outfit that facilitates partnerships between the NYC Department of Education and the philanthropic community. Its goals are to pilot new projects, pursue outcome-driven initiatives, and respond to emerging needs in the New York City public school system. The focus of this Fund is the 1.1 million students in 1,800 NYC public schools. It has secured over $440 million for the city’s public schools since its establishment in 1982. 

The Department of Education identifies its priorities with its Equity and Excellence for All agenda. Then the Fund for Public Schools raises money by partnering with foundations of all types, shapes, and sizes. In two recent years, the Fund raised approximately $17.5 million and $15.4 million, respectively.

The Fund’s primary grantee is the Department of Education. Grant money comes from foundation partners and then is passed on to the DOE. But the Fund is more than just a transactional agent for foundations to get their money over to the Department of Education. In fact, the Fund takes a very active role in the grantmaking process and maintaining the work and relationships. While a majority of dollars comes through DOE central, individual schools have received direct funding from the Fund as well. This typically happens when a donor or foundation has a specific school in mind to serve as a model school to build on later.

Recent grants from the fund include $400,000 for the NYC School Finder tool and $41 million for the Computer Science for All program. Computer Science for All is a huge program right now for this funder. Key funders that have partnered with the Fund include the following: CSNYC (Fred Wilson), Robin Hood, Math for America, Robin Hood Learning & Technology Fund, Oath Foundation, Alexandria Real Estate, Paulson Family Foundation, Hutchins Family Foundation, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, The Ron Conway Family, Hearst Foundations, Code.org, Accenture, Arconic Foundation, The Rudin Foundation + the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, ABNY Foundation, and Nancy and Alan Schwartz.

A Fund interest is Pre-K education, with social/emotional intelligence an emerging focus. The fund has been involved with arts education, college and career readiness, STEM education, improving teaching and leadership, early literacy, and health education and wellness. It awards scholarships, too. 

But overall, seed money and building capacity are at the heart of the Fund's work. Keep up with the organization through their blog and news section.

The foundation has a board of about nine directors and a staff of about 19. General questions can be directed to the staff at 212-374-2874 or via online form. Current financial data can be viewed here.

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