The Ed-Fi Network stands as one of the bigger ventures in education philanthropy of recent years. Between 2005 and 2011, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation pumped some $150 million into creating the network, which is a free resource that connects different data systems to give teachers more information and insights about student performance.
It's a powerful tool, assuming educators know how to use it. Which is why the foundation makes awards to help schools and state agencies to tap into the network.
In March, Dell awarded $178,000 to Denver Schools of Science and Technology, a network of charter schools in the Denver Public Schools district, to connect Ed-Fi with its efforts to develop a Teacher Career Pathway. The goal is to create a "master teacher" pathway that offers advancement and financial reward to teachers who demonstrate exceptional effectiveness, giving them a way to advance without leaving the classroom. DSST, which operates eight middle and high schools, received $360,000 from the Dell Foundation in May 2012 to support its initial adoption of Ed-Fi.
In January, Dell gave $280,000 to Double Line, Inc., an education data management company, to support the Nevada Department of Education's effort to unify data collection using the Ed-Fi standard.
Ellevation, LLC, a data and management company focusing on English as a Second Language students, received $371,875 in September 2013 to adapt Ed-Fi for use with English Language Learner standards and regulatory processes in Texas.
Looking further back, Dell gave $2 million in November 2012 for Education Pioneers to fund fellowships in education data analysis in part to increase the pool of analytic talent available to work with Ed-Fi.