Cheryl Loe
Communications Project Manager
The Foundation Center
(888) 356-0354 ext. 701

Steven Lawrence
Director of Research
The Foundation Center
(212) 807-2410

New York, NY -- July 11, 2011. A new issue brief published by the Foundation Center provides critical insights into how private funders can improve the effectiveness of their working relationships with state and local education leaders on reform issues. Moving Education Reform Forward: Grantmakers Reflect on a Convening with State and Local Government Education Leaders is based on interviews with participants at a national gathering convened in January 2011.

The conference, entitled Moving Forward with a Transformative Education Agenda: Practical Solutions for States and Districts, was coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It was the first-ever national discussion of its kind, and the confidential interviews with attendees offer a nuanced assessment of this type of convening and highlight the challenges that face grantmakers and education leaders in their work to coordinate future efforts effectively.

Under the auspices of the Foundations for Education Excellence initiative, the Foundation Center conducted interviews with six grantmakers and one regional association leader who attended. Key findings from these interviews include:

  • Interviewees appreciated the opportunity to engage directly with government officials, with whom they rarely interact.
  • A key role for foundations is to serve as a catalyst in generating ideas, helping to solve problems, and convening individuals.
  • Some grantmakers feel that it is critical to work at multiple levels of government to ensure successful and enduring reform efforts.
  • Funders expressed frustration over past interactions with government leaders who could not articulate longer-term strategic visions.

A forthcoming report commissioned by CSSCO will make specific recommendations for grantmakers working on the education reform issue.

About the Foundations for Education Excellence Initiative

The Foundations for Education Excellence project began in 2009 with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to assist grantmakers in leveraging federal funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for improving education. In 2010, the initiative broadened to support foundations' efforts across a range of education reform priorities.

Foundations for Education Excellence brings timely programs, information, and news to funders in the field. The online portal also features Philanthropy In/Sight®: Education, a customized version of the Foundation Center's Philanthropy In/Sight® mapping tool that helps grantmakers maximize their investments in education. Grantmakers can register to use the tool free of charge.

The Foundations for Education Excellence initiative and this issue brief were made possible through support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Foundations for Education Excellence may be accessed at:

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants -- a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.