The New York City-based Foundation Center has announced the launch of a national initiative to engage foundations and education leaders across the country in a unified, strategic drive to improve public education.
The cornerstone of the Foundations for Education Excellence initiative will be a Web portal designed to help education funders align their grantmaking — and maximize their overall impact — with funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Supported by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, the portal connects education funders to information and tools that will help them assess areas of need, share best practices, and forge strategic alliances to support ARRA's education reform goals (5 pages, PDF).
The portal contains interactive maps with details on foundation and ARRA funding for each state; summaries of best and promising practices drawn from foundation-sponsored reports; spotlights of current foundation initiatives on education reform; lists of top foundation funders and nonprofit recipients in each of the education reform areas, by state; and regularly updated education news from the center's Philanthropy News Digest. Visitors will be able to post comments on portions of the site, funders will be able to post upcoming programs and events, and an interactive discussion forum will be added to foster real-time conversations about strategies, program evaluation methods, and recent grants awarded.
"There is a unique window of opportunity in the coming weeks and months for private philanthropy to leverage its investment in education," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "Funders need fast-track tools to target areas of need and collaborate in new ways to improve educational opportunities across the country. The Foundation Center is ideally positioned to provide foundations with the knowledge platform needed to advance this process."