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Creating and Scaling Innovative School Models Through Strategic Partnerships

The Texas High School Project (THSP) was created in 2003 as a public-private alliance to support education reform across the state. This article focuses on the pivotal role of philanthropy within the THSP alliance to create early college high schools (ECHS). The model has been scaled at different levels to produce direct, affordable pathways for students to both attend college and attain skilled careers. The ECHS schools have higher test scores, greater credits earned, and reduced dropouts rates compared to traditional schools. Foundations with a track record for supporting successful work can increase the overall commitment to joint projects and Read more





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Developing Foundation-University-Grantee Collaboratives as a Model for High-Impact Philanthropy

This article reports on results from the Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students. The Weingart Foundation determined the scale and scope of the effort, and set forth specific goals and timelines; the districts were invited to propose projects that were organic and integrated into their own strategic plans. Based on research conducted by an intermediary, potential grantees were identified; six grantees were interviewed about their strategic plan priorities and four were Read more





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Finding the Fix: Embracing Philanthropy’s Role in Transforming an Urban Education Landscape

Education funders have historically used a “demonstration project” approach to funding, designed to lever change by demonstrating a new program and providing technical assistance to foster broader adoption. Despite demonstrating success with many of its grants, the Skillman Foundation’s education reform initiatives were derailed and undone by the instability of the district leadership, political landscape shifts, and disintegrating neighborhoods. A complete turnaround model must address the many issues facing a failing school, including culture, curriculum, school leadership, professional development, and classroom instruction. The stability of the central administration must also be considered. The new look at urban reform at scale Read more





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Using Civic Engagement and Collaboration to Create Community Change: Lessons From Charlotte, N.C.

This article examines one community’s effort to use a large-scale civic engagement process to improve the health, safety, and education of children. In doing so, it describes the challenges that foundations can face in trying to sustain a cross-sector collaborative process while working to produce highly visible outcomes in a relatively short period of time. The findings from this study illustrate important lessons for foundations that are funding and leading cross-sector collaborative efforts – lessons related to the importance of communication and transparency, the need for shared leadership, the limits to voluntary collaboration, and the need for a sustainable structure Read more





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Developing a Master Data Sharing Agreement: Seeking Student-Level Evidence to Support a Collaborative Community Effort in Education

This article discusses how a private foundation, a public school system, and a state university joined forces to address a difficult, long-standing challenge: closing the academic achievement gap between urban and suburban students. The parties worked through multiple challenges and forged a Master Data Sharing Agreement (MDSA) that will facilitate both daily intelligence for program staff and powerful post-hoc research capacity. This MDSA text has been released online under a Creative Commons license (Community Research Institute, 2011a).