The Nellie Mae Education Foundation in Quincy, Massachusetts, has announced a realignment of its grantmaking priorities to support the improvement and reform of educational systems across New England.
In a statement on the foundation's Web site, president and CEO Nicholas C. Donohue said the foundation will continue to support underserved learners, but will also provide grants and other support to investigate and promote varied, high-quality approaches designed to help students acquire the skills and knowledge necessary in the twenty-first century. The educational system has been preparing students for roles in an industrial economy that no longer exists, Donohue wrote, while technology and labor outsourcing have altered the economic landscape, making jobs more intellectually and socially dynamic and demanding.
Looking ahead, the foundation plans to award grants totaling approximately $15 million a year in five program areas: early learning, time for learning, pathways to higher learning, adult learning, and systems building. Some previously supported work, including pathways to college success and achieving the dream, will be funded under the new plan. The foundation also will apply three strategies across the new program areas: to ascertain which practices merit expansion and integration into the mainstream education system; to understand and influence local, state, and federal policies; and to approach and influence public understanding.
The foundation has developed a new research agenda to build knowledge and help inform decision making in the field. And to accelerate and enhance learning for the common good, the foundation will adopt a multiyear, multi-stage approach to organizational learning through partnerships with state policy makers, educators, business and community organization leaders, and foundation colleagues.
"Any productive work on the scale imagined here will demand collaboration," Donohue said. "Fortunately, a common purpose [in the area of education reform] is emerging throughout our region...It is our hope to be part of a shared movement toward these ends."