Rhee requests $7 to 10 million from local grantmakers

by Christian Clansky, Program Associate, Washington Grantmakers

When Chancellor Michelle Rhee announced that she would be seeking around $75 million per year in additional funding for her education reform efforts, local funders waited eagerly to hear what portion of that request would be directed towards them. Last week Rhee met with Washington Grantmakers’ Public Education Working Group (PEWG) to give them the answer: $7 to10 million.

That number is not as big as the $25 million requested from national funders, or the $40 million from the federal government, but Rhee emphasized that the investment of local funders is critical to bringing the other two groups to the table. She noted that the local funding community has a wealth of knowledge about the historical successes and failures of DCPS, and its commitment to her transformation plan would convey confidence to national funders and the government.

As Rhee wraps up her first year, she remains focused on improving the quality of teachers and principals. “When you have sustainable leadership,” she said, “you can see dramatic changes in student achievement.”  This continues to resonate with PEWG’s own stated focus on professional development for teachers and principals.

Bolstered by attention from members of Congress and leaders from other cities (including New York’s Michael Bloomberg), Rhee is confident that with support, the D.C. school reform model can become the gold standard for successful public school transformations across the country.

PEWG will reconvene in September to discuss next steps in its partnership with Chancellor Rhee.