It’s been over a year since COVID-19 permeated our lives and changed education as we knew it. Since then, in addition to bolstering support for our grantees and providing rapid relief funds to efforts in NYC and New Jersey, our Foundation has spent the time thinking through how to best adjust our grantmaking to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s needs. 

At the heart of this work was feedback from our grantees, who had asked us to consider incorporating more transparency into our decision making process, less reporting burden, longer grant terms, and more support outside of funding dollars.

Today, we’re excited to announce updates to our funding model that take this feedback into account. George Khalaf, our new Program Director, will oversee the rollout and provide ongoing leadership for our updated model, which incorporates the way we’ve funded in the past with lessons from the field to create a responsive approach that is attentive to the needs of the social sector. Before we get into the details, here’s a high-level overview of the benefits grantees can expect to see:

  • Support for early stage organizations we may not have funded before
  • Larger and longer GOS funding commitments after pilot grants
  • Streamlined diligence for multi-year grants 
  • Deeper, more personalized support outside of funding dollars, differentiated by organizational stage
  • Increased transparency as to what to expect in terms of grant size, grant duration, and renewal expectations

Our updated funding model incorporates the way we’ve funded in the past with lessons from the field to create a responsive approach that is attentive to the needs of the social sector.

The intent of our updated model is to focus our work on identifying and fueling the scale of cost-effective programs and solutions that accelerate improvement in key academic and socioemotional outcomes for all children. Inspired by venture philanthropy, the model puts an emphasis on innovation, evidence building, and growth. Under the model, we will continue to make Direct Impact investments in both early and growth stage organizations, as well as Ecosystem investments that clear the path to scale for our grantees and the work they do. None of the categories within the model are new to our work, but we’ve tried our best to make them definitionally more clear so that organizations have a better understanding of what and how we fund. 

Within Direct Impact, or work that directly supports and impacts a target population, we’ll continue to fund innovation and new solutions at the early-stage and the growth of cost-effective programs with measurable impact at the later stages. We believe both elements are crucial in order to accelerate improvement in academic and socioemotional outcomes for all children.

Within our Ecosystem efforts, we’ll continue to fund work that clears the path to scale for our grantees and the work they do. This includes:

  • Funding evaluations that help organizations strengthen their evidence base and unlock growth and funding opportunities
  • Supporting research that generates new knowledge designed to enhance field understanding and the adoption of evidence-based practices
  • Supporting the development of ecosystems that allow cost-effective, evidence-informed, and impactful programs and practices to scale

Our grantmaking and strategic support will focus on unlocking innovation, evidence, and growth opportunities for organizations and researchers that are committed to accelerating key academic and socioemotional outcomes for all children.

One of the biggest changes this approach introduces is in the relationship between us and our grantees. Our goal is to make those relationships stronger, through deeper, more extensive support as needed. Instead of limiting check-ins to grant goal progress, we’re hoping time with our team shifts to being a collaborative opportunity for grantees to problem solve and brainstorm.  We also plan to expand the slate of non-monetary supports we offer to our grantees, which already includes access to experts for data and impact analysis, cost analysis, beneficiary voice implementation, and communications support.

Amidst these updates, it is important to note what will remain the same. The Foundation’s mission remains unchanged: to measurably enhance education both inside and outside the classroom. Our values of connecting genuinely, thinking and acting with rigor, and learning together will continue to guide our work. And our investments will remain focused on early childhood, informal STEM education, and K-9 efforts that include supporting educators and student-centered learning solutions. 

It has been a challenging year, and we are so incredibly proud of the work our grantees and partners have done to ensure that children, families, and educators had as much support as possible given the never-ending difficulties and barriers in their way. We are excited for the possibilities our new funding model offers to not only make our partnerships with grantees stronger and more transparent, but also more impactful on behalf of children and families, which feels more important now than ever before.

If you have any questions about any of the above, please reach out to your Foundation contact. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy. 

-Anu and George