Here's Another Investor Into Education Reform, But With Twists

I've written before about the philanthropy of Jeff Yass, a founder of Susquehanna International Group (SIG). Yass and his wife, Janine, dig into education reform in the City of Brotherly Love and beyond. They're lead investors of Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), having given more than $5 million through the years. Yass and other SIG founders like Arthur Dantchik and Joel Greenberg have also tried to advance their belief in things like charters and school vouchers through political donations

Greenberg once told Philadelphia education outlet thenotebook, that they're "not in this to run charter schools, to manage charter schools. This is purely altruistic...we view this as helping kids have a choice who are trapped in failing, oftentimes violent schools."

Speaking of Greenberg, he and his wife, Marcy Gringlas, established a foundation a few years ago called Seed the Dream, which is laser-focused on education in the Philadelphia area and far beyond. The foundation's annual grantmaking has steadily risen, reaching more than $7 million in a recent year. While the couple keeps a rather low-profile, Seed the Dream has a helpful and accessible website. 

Seed the Dream Foundation strives to advance well-being through educational access, advocacy, and awareness. The foundation's grantmaking includes support of charters, scholarships, and after school programming. What's also interesting is that each of the foundation's three initiatives is strongly interested in the Jewish community. Greenberg and Marcy sit on the board of governors of Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world

Seed the Dream's Educational Advocacy initiative, for instance, "funds programs that educate about, advocate for, and promote life-long connections to Israel." Its Educational Awareness initiative, meanwhile, "supports programs and organizations dedicated to preserving the memory of victims, disseminating knowledge of the Holocaust to future generations, and providing assistance to victims of discrimination."

As a result of these focuses, while the foundation's grantees include more typical education outfits like KIPP, and after school outfits like Play On Philly! (Marcy trained as a violinist), and Mighty Writers, other grantees include Gershman Y’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival and Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Israel 360 Program, which sends "young professionals on a 10-day Israel experience with pre-and post-trip programming." 

The couple and their foundation also support several Holocaust education organizations. Seed the Dream, for instance, established Cuba's first permanent Holocaust exhibit, "We Remember—The Holocaust and the Creation of the Living Community". Another grantee is Yahad-In Unum, a Paris-based organization dedicated to identifying and documenting sites of mass executions of Jews in Eastern Europe during World War II, and recording interviews of eyewitnesses to these crimes. The couple's daughter also directed a short film about the Holocaust. 

As another example of Seed the Dream's unique philanthropy, a grant given by the foundation went towards launching the first KIPP network of schools in Israel. 

Unfortunately for grantseekers, Seed the Dream only allows organizations that have been invited to submit a Letter of Inquiry via its online application system. Greenberg, Marcy, and their Seed the Dream Foundation, though, should be watched in this space in the coming years.

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