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Education funders favor advocacy

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PJ staff report

Increasingly, foundations that fund education are awarding grants to support public-policy efforts, including advocacy, a new study says.

In 2010, seven in 10 education funders supported policy efforts, up from six in 10 a year ago, says the survey released by Grantmakers for Education.

And among those stepping into policy funding, 72 percent funded advocacy, a field previously considered as high-risk among grantmakers because of federal rules and regulations around funding advocacy and lobbying efforts.

“We have a clearer understanding of what’s legally possible to change public policy, and frankly, many of us have a lot less patience with the status quo in education reform,” Dori Jacobson, senior vice president of the Rodel Foundation in Delaware, says in a statement.

In addition policy, top funding priorities for education grantmakers are lowering the achievement gap between high- and low-income students, supported by 87 percent of funders, and professional development for teachers, supported by 72 percent of foundations.

Education funders also appear committed to the concept of “cradle-to-career pathways,” with 64 percent of grantmakers funding efforts to connect high-school with post-secondary education and half working to align early learning with K-12 education.

And while the majority of funders provide support for rural schools and students learning the English language, respondents agree that not enough is being done to support these students.

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