Education Philanthropy is Headed in a New Direction

A new survey conducted by Grantmakers for Education shows a significant shift in the education initiatives that donors are most interested in.

For the past decade, donors have primarily focused their attention on K-12 reform, which covers issues related to teacher quality, standards, and assessments. However, the latest research shows that donors are less interested in K-12 reform and more interested in areas like social and emotional learning, postsecondary and early childhood education, and equity.

“This survey data makes clear that philanthropies have, collectively, begun to redefine education giving and reform quite profoundly—directing their dollars toward new priorities and dramatically away from the more traditional K-12 issues,” said Celine Coggins, executive director of Grantmakers for Education. “Funders recognize that academic reforms alone are inadequate to the challenge of helping all students—especially disadvantaged students—succeed. They are ensuring those are paired with equity-focused, social-emotional supports that the emerging brain science shows are essential for learning.”

Equity in particular has proven to be one of the fastest growing sectors in education philanthropy. Of the 91 education donors surveyed, 75 percent said that they are committed to advancing equity for disadvantaged populations, such as racial/ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community.

“The field of education philanthropy is at an inflection point,” Coggins explained. “We have gleaned many lessons since the first administration of this survey, a decade ago. We are also seeing a loss of faith in the federal government and movement toward local problem solving to ensure all students are given the opportunities they need to be successful.”

“It is a moment that is both tumultuous and exciting for its potential,” she added. “And given the divisive political climate, it is a moment where our collective leadership has never been more necessary.”

To read the full report, click here.