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

The Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative sought to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students. Based on research by an intermediary, six selected school districts were invited to propose projects that were a fit for their own strategic plans; four were funded. Based on this experience, three key design elements were identified: 1) Confine the initiative to a content area or target population, 2) Pay attention to geography, and 3) Encourage boundary-spanning.