National management and strategy consulting firm Dewey & Associates recently released its ranking of U.S. education foundations in the report, "Stepping Up: The Top K-12 Education Foundations in the Nation." The top rankings, which focus on the top 100 districts by population, are based on annual revenues, revenues per student, total assets, assets per student, investment income, total program expenses, expenses per student, and volunteers.
As the firm's president and author of the study, Dewey Caruthers, states in a press release, despite the enhancements these foundations offer to public education, "most parents have never heard of their local K-12 education foundation."
The complete study, which also breaks down the top 100 foundations into four different divisions based on their annual revenues, can be found here. But to get a better idea of what types of programs and initiatives the top K-12 education foundation offer, we decided to take a look at the 10 ranked highest in the top 50 overall.
1. Pinellas Education Foundation - Florida
Founded in 1986, the Pinellas Education Foundation sets out in its mission and vision statements to improve educational opportunities for Pinellas County Schools while ensuring that all students are prepared for college, the workforce, or technical training after high school. The foundation earned its seventh consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator in 2013 and had net assets of $31.7 million for 2012-13. Along with its more than 100 traditional scholarships for high school seniors, the foundation's programs include Take Stock in Children, Walker's Rising Stars, and pTEC. Additionally, a Next Generation Entrepreneurs program awards $10,000 for innovative students to start their own business with, and Youth Connect offers support to students from low-income backgrounds.
2. Clark County Public Education Foundation - Nevada
Located in the nation's fifth-largest school district, the Clark County Public Education Foundation has been supporting education and providing opportunities to students for 23 years. While it offers over 140 scholarships, many of the foundation's initiatives are largely focused on enriching students' K-12 experiences. Its Teacher Exchange program helps provide supplies and equipment to educators, Artists 4 Kidz introduces them to local artists and helps foster their own creativity, and We R Community fosters a spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy by allowing participating teens to create mini-foundations and choose how they use $5,000. The foundation even helps low-income students receive dental treatment through Project SMILE.
Its total net assets for fiscal 2013 were $13.1 million.
3. Omaha Schools Foundation - Nebraska
Among the Omaha Schools Foundation's programs is a paid preschool program requiring parents to pay a $50 registration fee — though qualifying families can still be accepted with Title 20 assistance. The foundation also sponsors Kids Club, a before- and after-school program for elementary school students that offers arts and crafts, outdoor games, storytelling, music, and drama activities. Around 25 teacher grants, worth a total of $ 44,853.04, are available, as are a number of college scholarships for graduating seniors.
4. Denver Public Schools Foundation - Colorado
The Denver Public Schools Foundation serves what is, according to its website, the fastest-growing district in the U.S. The district has seen enrollment grow 20% in the last six years and currently serves over 88,000 kids at 186 schools. The foundation itself has been around since 1992, and it aims, through the support of education, to create a better Denver and facilitate innovation by helping ensure student success. As evidenced by its fact sheet, its financial assistance has, among other things, created a math tutoring program that helped students improve by as much as two grade levels, funded science curriculum that saw fifth-grade scores improve 13%, served 20,000 dinners to high-need students and their families, and helped secure a $7 million grant from the Department of Labor to improve opportunities for Career and Technical Education.
5. Philadelphia Education Fund - Pennsylvania
In 1985, the Philadelphia Alliance for Teaching Humanities in the Schools (PATHS) and Philadelphia Renaissance in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) were founded by members of the city's business, foundation, eventually merging with the Philadelphia Schools Collaborative in 1995 to form the Philadelphia Education Fund. The foundation offers educators the opportunity to become mentor teachers and also provides support for their work in the classroom, with initiatives including a Math and Science Coalition, arts programming designed to keep students engaged, research on early warning dropout indicators, and a College Access Program. For students, there are programs for staying on track to graduation and college, getting back on track after dropping out, and, of course, funding higher education through scholarships.
6. Hillsborough Education Foundation - Florida
The second Florida foundation to appear on the list, the Hillsborough Education Foundation was founded by two district officials in 1987 and aims to involve business and community partners in ensuring the success and recognition of the district's schools. Among its offerings are a partnership with AmeriCorps that sees that organization's members mentor 260 at-risk students, support for career and technical education, a Take Stock in Children donor dollar-matching scholarship in partnership with Stanley Tate Florida Prepaid Foundation, and the usual array of grants for teachers and other scholarships for students. Its 20/20 Strategic Plan, which has a goal of reaching annual revenue of $10 million in 2020, will certainly strengthen those initiatives.
7. The Fund for Public Schools - New York
New York City's primary means for lining up private support for innovative programs and practices in its public schools, the Fund for Public Schools was founded by former mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools chief, Joel Klein, in 2002. Among the foundation's initiatives have been Big Apple Awards for exemplary teachers, a $10,000 grant program for the city's public school libraries, a Mentoring Scholarship, and a partnership with Nike Inc. that saw kids learn about the importance of exercise from the New York Giants' Victor Cruz, as well as trainer Holly Rilinger.
8. The Foundation for Osceola Education - Florida
The third Florida-based foundation on the list, the Foundation for Osceola Education sets itself apart from the previous seven (at least based on programs listed on their websites) with its charter school initiatives. Per its site, the foundation in 2001 set itself up as the primary channel for public charter school capital funding from the state in its county. The site currently lists three charter academies for the district. Along with its college scholarships, the foundation's programs also include a Kids Closet for low-income students to receive new uniform clothing, the Bookmark Buddies reading mentor program, a Design & Go Studio for projects and posters, and Medical Pipeline, which aims to inspire the pursuit of careers in healthcare.
9. San Francisco Education Fund - California
As with the other foundations, a large part of the San Francisco Education Fund's mission involves assisting students from underserved communities. It recruits tutoring, mentoring, and literacy volunteers; facilitates professional development through residencies, instructional rounds, and a partnership with Fund for Teachers; and has spun off a Peer Resources program aimed at increasing student leadership while eliminating violence. The Citi Foundation, FHI360, and Lumina Foundation have all also partnered with the foundation to help the city's entire school community focus on preparing students for graduation and success in college.
10. Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools - Florida
Rounding out Florida foundations' claims to 40% of the top 10 is the Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools, which recently received a $80,879 grant from the United Way to support a Last Best Chance Program for at-risk youth. Its programs are focused into three primary areas: Enhancing student performance (i.e., the Backpacks for Success supply drive and the teacher-funding Grants for Great Ideas), removing barriers to learning (via alternative school programs, combating homelessness, and more), and creating a high-performing school district with a variety of programs that award and recognize teachers and other employees.