Elizabeth Pauley, The Boston Foundation

TITLE: Program Director, Education to Career

FUNDING AREAS: Education, career preparedness

CONTACT: elizabeth.pauley@tbf.org, 617-338-1700

IP TAKE: As an education leader in Boston, Pauley knows the system well. Find a way to bridge the gap between school and career with your program. 

PROFILE: Elizabenth Pauley's expertise began in the classroom when she was a teacher in under-resourced schools in Massachusetts as part of the Teach for America program. What she saw there helped encourage her shift to administration with the Massachusetts Department of Education. "I was looking for an opportunity to influence the conditions under which our country education children," she said in a Boston Foundation newsletter when joining the organization.

Her influence now plays out in a different way. As education program director for The Boston Foundation (TBF), Pauley leads a program that helps empower low-income and minority students in the Greater Boston area. And because the foundation is one of the largest funders in the region, its influence on the education ecosystem is greatly felt.

Since taking on the role, Pauley has shown a willingness to build partnerships that drive the program's funding. For instance, the foundation's Success Boston program, which provides support to Boston Public School graduates to help them get into and finish college, is a collaboration between the city of Boston and many different universities and community colleges across the state.

In a blog post for Wheelock College, Pauley wrote about Success Boston and the Kalamazoo Promise, and in the process she revealed a key idea about her partnership-based giving. It's not just about throwing dollars at an issue; community-based solutions and strong networks of support solve complex problems. As she wrote:

Removing financial barriers has to be part of the solution. But that must be combined with an "all hands on deck" community approach that helps students get ready for, transition into, and succeed in college. Only then will we deliver on the promise that Kalamazoo and Boston have made to their children.

Pauley originally joined TBF as the foundation was expanding its education funding to include support of a Pilot Schools Initiative, increased funding for charter schools, increased opportunities for Boston Public School graduates, and an expanded focus on research and convening projects. At the time, Pauley was a senior program officer, but she has since transferred into the role of program director.

As director, she has helped build up two other programs, the Coalition FOR Community Colleges and The Boston Opportunity Agenda. Again, the key is building a network of support around common issue areas.

The key to the foundation's education grants is bridging the gap between education and career.

The majority of its funding goes to first providing students with quality K-12 education, with grants directed at structural reform, and then preparing students for college. In the past five years, Success Boston has been a major initiative of that latter goal.

For instance, in the first quarter of 2013, grants to the program took a major piece of the foundation's education grant pie. Through the program, the foundation made $850,000 available to six organizations, "all of which are focused on helping students and their families plan, prepare for, and complete programs in higher education," a press release from the foundation said.

To empower the K-12 pipeline, an $184,000 grant was made to the Boston Plan for Excellence to help prepare Boston public teachers. And another grant of $94,000 for higher education was made to the state department of education.

For new grantseekers, TBF's education program has a history of working with past grantees, making the majority of grants to partnerships and initiatives. This can make it different to access funding from TBF, but the foundation is still open to new grants, albeit in more modest amounts.

"In light of our limited ability to make new grants, organizations interested in exploring potential financial support should first contact a member of our program staff before completing an online Letter of Inquiry," the foundation's grant-funding page says.