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Knowledge From the Field

Benchmarking 2011: Trends in Education Philanthropy

Published: December 2011

Publisher(s): Grantmakers for Education

Funder(s): Target Corporation

View Report (36 pages; 3.42MB; PDF)

Area of Focus: College and Career Preparation; Literacy/Reading Skills; Out-of-School Time; Teacher Quality and Leadership


Based on a survey of Grantmakers for Education members, the report describes funder characteristics, priorities, giving trends, strategies, responses in turbulent times, and reflections on criticism leveled at the field.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=Surveyed grantmakers were smaller funders (68 percent had annual education grantmaking budgets of $5 million or less), funded on shorter timeframes (nearly half supported grants lasting two to three years), and saw their budgets stabilize or expand in 2011.

=Funding priorities included closing the achievement gap for minority and low-income students, education innovation, out-of-school and after-school programs, promoting college and career readiness, teacher professional development, and reading/literacy skills.

=Collaboration was the most common strategy to enhance impact (91 percent collaborated with other funders and 83 percent collaborated with non-funder stakeholders).

=In light of some of the criticisms leveled at the field, grantmakers should practice humility, challenge their theories of change (i.e. constantly seek evidence to test their theories); do no harm; coordinate their efforts; and practice transparency and accountability.

Focus: National

Subjects/Keywords: Achievement Gap; College and Career Readiness; Innovation; Literacy; Out-of-School Time, Philanthropy; Professional Development; Reading

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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