The Walton Family Foundation has announced plans to invest $1 billion over five years in support of new and existing charter schools.
Based on lessons it has learned from its more than $1 billion investment over two decades in K-12 education reform, the foundation argues in its 2015-20 K-12 Education Strategic Plan (8 pages, PDF) that "cities need to create environments that support choice" so that all students have high-quality educational options, including charter schools. "This means creating enrollment platforms, equitable transportation access, fair funding, and readily accessible, current information on schools and student performance for families and other(s)."
To that end, the foundation's strategic plan prioritizes four initiatives — investing in cities, supporting the high-quality choice movement, innovation, and research. According to the document, the foundation's city-level investments will be focused on partnerships with school districts and support for charter and private schools; the recruitment and training of more effective educators; the development of systems that ensure easy access to school options; advocacy around policies that promote school choice; and community organizing. The foundation also plans to support national education reform organizations and invest in awareness building, novel school models, citywide enrollment models, and innovative ways to assess student success beyond test scores, including assessing non-cognitive attributes.
The foundation's investments in education will be focused on places where it already has ties and on creating new schools and developing "pipelines of talent," Marc Sternberg, a former high school principal who directs education philanthropy for the foundation, told the Associated Press. "People in poverty need high-performing schools," said Sternberg. "Our goal is that all families...have better schools. To be the rising tide to lift all boats."