Fred Frelow, Ford Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: K-12 education

CONTACT: f.frelow@fordfoundation.org, 212-573-5000

IP TAKE: Frelow wants to revolutionize the organization of the school day to include more time and greater learning opportunities. He also wants to improve the quality of classroom instruction.

PROFILE: As a program officer on education issues at the Ford Foundation, Fred Frelow brings a from-the-trenches perspective. For 12 years, he was a teacher in the public schools of Newton, Massachusetts. He holds a doctorate in educational administration and policy analysis from Teachers College at Columbia University and a master's in education and policy analysis from Boston University. Before joining the Ford Foundation in 2008, Frelow was director of early college initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. He also oversaw the school reform program at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Much of Frelow's work at the Ford Foundation, "focuses on improving the quality of teaching in secondary schools serving low-income, minority and immigrant children." A great deal of Frelow's work is conducted via the foundation's More and Better Learning Time initiative. This initiative emphasizes expanded learning opportunities, such as before-school, after-school, and other extended-day efforts, for elementary and secondary students. According to the Ford Foundation, schools that maximize expanded learning time include all students; provide time for teacher collaboration that includes data-driven inquiry; engage partners, including parents and community organizations; develop a culture of high expectations; and share student outcome goals across all partners.

Frelow and the foundation envision a longer, more varied school day that includes breakfast and lunch; instruction in the core subjects of reading/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies; foreign language instruction; opportunities for participation in arts and athletics; and college and career preparation opportunities. These include such elements as credit-bearing internship opportunities dual credit courses, under which students can earn both high school and college credits. For Frelow and other advocates of an extended school day, more time in school equals greater student achievement. Some studies have shown that students who attend schools with extended schedules improve in reading and mathematics achievement at faster rates than students who follow traditional school day schedules.

The benefits of extended learning come at a price, however, and that price can be high for financially struggling school districts. Extended school days mean more costs to pay teachers and other school staff for longer hours, to operate school facilities, and to hire providers that offer tutoring and enrichment activities for students. Philanthropic organizations can provide a source of funding to meet these obligations, and successful extended-day programs can then attract greater buy-in from school boards that may initially be skeptical about allocating limited funds to a longer school day.

Because many educational nonprofits conduct before- and after-school programs in schools, More and Better Learning Time presents tremendous opportunities for organizations that operate extended-day programs. If you offer out-of-school instruction or enrichment programs, Frelow is a funder to whom you should introduce yourself by submitting a grant inquiry via Ford's website. Ford asks that grantseekers refrain from contacting program officers directly. Competition is high for grants foundation wide, and by its own admission, on average, only around 1% of unsolicited grant inquiries receive funding. 

The foundation works across the country but focuses specifically on the following cities: New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Denver, and Newark. Past grant awards suggest that Frelow and the foundation often fund work done by institutions of higher education and large non-profit organizations.

Frelow's interests in education are not limited to extended-day learning opportunities for students. As a former teacher, he knows that effective teachers delivering quality instruction make a huge difference in the lives of children. That's why he also supports efforts to improve quality teaching, especially in schools that serve low-income and minority students. Past Ford Foundation grants in this area have gone to organizations interested in strengthening the quality of classroom instruction and conducting research on developing effective teachers.

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