Foundation Launched to Spur Giving to Los Angeles Public Schools

John Deasey, the incoming superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, is creating a new public foundation that will work to boost private support for the financially strapped school system, the Associated Press reports.

Announced during a speech at the Rand Corporation last week, the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, which is modeled after the Fund for Public Schools in New York City, will give donors a say in how their contributions are used, with interest earned by the fund used for a variety of projects of the donors' choosing; donors also will receive an annual report card detailing the social return on their investment.

In addition, Deasey announced that he is working to establish a West Coast branch of the New York City-based Robin Hood Foundation, which raises millions of dollars annually for local public schools in New York. Established in 1988, Robin Hood targets poverty in New York City by finding and funding programs in the areas of early childhood, education, and jobs and economic security.

The Los Angeles school district is facing a $408 million shortfall in its $6 billion operating budget for the 2011-12 school year. According to the AP, as many as 7,300 employees may be laid off to close the gap. In the worst-case scenario, preschool and afterschool programs would be cut and class sizes would increase. "There is not a line on that list that is not essential to what goes on in our schools," said current superintendent Ramon Cortines. "Our backs are against the wall."

Christina Hoag. "Incoming LA Superintendent Announces Foundation." Associated Press 02/17/2011. Christina Hoag. "LA Schools Warns 7,300 Workers of Possible Layoff." Associated Press 02/16/2011.