The Walton Family Foundation has announced a new strategy aimed at fueling the growth of high-quality K-12 schools across the United States and grants totaling more than $100 million in support of that strategy.
Detailed in a new report, Rooted in Opportunity: The Walton Family Foundation's Approach to Starting and Growing High-Quality Schools (32 pages, PDF), the strategy includes ongoing support for organizations that have successfully created public charter schools as well as an expanded focus on innovative school models designed to meet the learning needs of all children.
To that end, the foundation will award grants in support of efforts to start and/or scale high-quality charter schools (Building Excellent Schools and KIPP), promote accountability and autonomy at district and private schools (Indianapolis Public Schools and Partnership Schools), implement diverse pedagogical approaches (Big Picture Learning and Wildflower Schools), increase early-stage support for leaders of color (Teaching Excellence and Camelback Ventures), help students navigate the transition to college and career (Match Foundation and YouthForce NOLA), expand schools that are serving special student populations well (CHIME Institute and Collegiate Academies), create more schools that serve students from diverse backgrounds (Bricolage Academy and the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition), and provide early-stage support for entrepreneurs (Reframe Labs and 4.0 Schools).
"It's the same commitment that has driven us for decades: to do everything in our power to ensure as many children as possible can access the kind of educational opportunity that is essential to the American dream," the report states. "Indeed, new schools and models are not our ultimate objective. The end we seek is improved outcomes for the next generation of young people: better possibilities, better opportunities, and a brighter tomorrow."
"Thanks to courageous school founders — overwhelmingly teachers who have a vision for what school can be — we know that quality schools that put children on a path to college and career success at scale are possible," said Marc Sternberg, K-12 education director at the foundation. "But the simple truth is that a great school remains out of reach for too many families. So we've got to do more — more to support educators with a passion and plan for something better, more for families who look to schools as a pathway to opportunity. And in order to build on two decades of work, we need partners old and new in philanthropy and positions of civic leadership who share a vision for the day when all children have access to a school right for them."