Thanks to our members’ participation in Washington Grantmakers’ April 17 discussion on public education, the educational reform movement in the District may get another boost. The funders at our table acknowledged their commitment to “academic excellence” and agreed to begin discussions about the best ways to coordinate specific funding priorities so as to maximize impact. So far, discussions have focused on the importance of teacher and principal preparedness toward achieving academic excellence, and the importance of strong advocacy for reform.
Choosing specific focus areas is not saying: These are the most important things to fund. There are many, many crucial stops on the path toward academic excellence. Quality early childhood programs are important. Parent engagement in middle schools is important. College preparation in high school is important. There are plenty of roles for stakeholders to play. But if the Washington Grantmakers community identifies priority areas, examines the research, and coordinates focused investments… what an impact we will have.
This is the chance of a lifetime for the District’s children. The Fenty Administration has prioritized improving the District’s inadequate educational outcomes for children. National funders are investing huge sums to work in tandem with the public sector. The planets are aligning for change in a way that hasn’t occurred in the District in decades, and by aligning our own funding efforts, we’ll maximize the effectiveness of our grantmaking. When funders collaborate, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.