Below is a roundup highlighting some of the impactful work our grantees and Foundation staff accomplished in March 2020. This was a difficult month for many given the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and across the world. For more information on how our Foundation is responding, please read this post.
For many students, ninth-grade algebra can be a pivotal moment. Failure to pass this course has been linked with a subsequent failure to graduate high school, making math skills even more essential to future success.
This month, Fast Company named Saga Education one of its “most innovative education companies of 2020,” a recognition it awarded Saga “for closing the achievement gap in math—students learned 2.5 years’ worth in a year—by funding full-time tutors in public schools.” Thanks to Saga’s tutors, who employ both digital and in-person techniques, Saga Education reduces math-course failures by 63 percent. Saga Education operates this program in DC, New York, and Chicago public schools.
Saga Education is a grantee in the Innovative Schools portfolio.
For 1 billion children around the world, learning from home has become the new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During these trying times, parents, teachers, and students are looking to the popular online learning site Khan Academy for best practices in and resources for virtual education.
To meet rising demand, Khan Academy began rolling out a swath of new programs, and Bank of America pledged $1 million to prevent the Khan Academy website from crashing from a traffic surge of 50 percent. Forbes reported on the new resources for the world’s students, from daily homeschooling schedules for all age groups to webinars for teachers and parents. Founder Sal Khan has even made himself personally available, conducting Facebook and YouTube live streams, and joining CBS to speak to parents on how to deal with school closures due to the novel coronavirus. Sal encouraged parents to lean into subjects they may be unfamiliar with or not remember well as an opportunity to learn together. “I think there’s no better signal to you, students, than to say, ‘Hey, I forgot that, let’s learn that together, let’s watch the video, let’s do some exercises together,’ your kids will really appreciate that.” In an interview with Bloomberg News, Sal also reminded viewers that many challenges remain, such as a lack of equitable Internet access.
Khan Academy is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.
COVID-19 has changed the way American students learn and parents and educators teach. As millions of people across the country adjust to learning remotely, the nonprofit online learning platform Zearn has made their entire K-5 curriculum available for free. This includes 400 hours of digital lessons with on-screen teachers and supportive remediation, as well as paper materials that can be used by those without access to a device. Zearn is also making available specific webinars and resources for teachers, parents, and administrators—not to mention some “diversions and doodles“ to help us get through these tough times.
Zearn is a grantee in the Innovative Schools portfolio.
ExpandED Schools, TNTP, and TFA NY
Each year, City & State New York highlights the accomplishments and contributions of the 100 most impactful officials, administrators, advocates, executives, and union leaders of what it calls our “most impactful industry”—education. This year, three Overdeck Family Foundation grantees were recognized as part of City & State New York’s “2020 Education Power 100.”
- ExpandEd Schools provides a “full slate of in-school and afterschool enrichment programs” and serves as an advocate for city, state, and federal policy. President and CEO Saskia Traill was recognized for her decade of work and leadership at the organization.
- TNTP is dedicated to tackling education inequality by providing excellent teachers to the students who need them most. Dan Weisberg, TNTP’s CEO, was honored for his efforts with the reform-minded organization, including overseeing TNTP’s 2018 report, “The Opportunity Myth,” which revealed how students nationwide are failed by their schools.
- Teach For America NY’s Executive Director, Charissa Fernández, has led TFA NY since 2013, during which time she re-engineered a teacher hiring process and launched a New York regional training institute.
Instruction Partners helps small school districts improve academic instruction through coaching models, curriculum design, and professional development. Typically, the organization works with small school systems where educators and staff are under-resourced.
In late February, the organization began urging school and district leaders to start preparing for possible closures due to COVID-19. In the days following, they launched a COVID-19 Resource Hub to offer guidance on best practices for transitioning to distance learning and specific resources for schools to use when teaching students, reports the 74. Now, Instruction Partners has a robust COVID-19 Resource Hub with guidance for teachers and leaders, sample district-level plans, student schedules, and resources for various grade levels and subjects. Instruction Partners is continuously refreshing the Hub as more districts and students are engaging in distance learning.
Instruction Partners is a grantee in the Exceptional Educators portfolio.
On March 12, LENA, which helps improve school readiness and improve child outcomes through early talk, released new data demonstrating the lasting success of its programs. New data analysis revealed that children’s language outcomes persist 18 months after their parents participated in LENA’s group parent language coaching program. This was in addition to previous data that had already demonstrated that the program results in short-term, immediate growth in a child’s language development (typically doubling the rate of language development during the program’s course). This new analysis suggests that, more than a year and a half later, parents are still putting into practice what they learned during the program, results that mirror a recent I-LABS language coaching study as well.
LENA is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.
Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI)
The need to care for both a mother and her child does not end when that child is born. “CenteringPregnancy,” a program deployed by Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI), offers a full array of care from pregnancy through early childhood, focusing on parent activation and empowerment.
"As the shift toward value-based care grows, payer investments in transforming prenatal care will become critical to improving birth outcomes, reducing health inequities and realizing savings for the healthcare system."
As of March 3, America’s largest customer-owned health insurer, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) has joined CHI in supporting its CenteringPregnancy initiative, with a grant of $1.5 million over three years. This partnership will help CHI to expand CenteringPregnancy to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Centering Healthcare Institute CEO Angie Truesdale celebrated the opportunity to partner with payer organizations like HCSC. “As the shift toward value-based care grows, payer investments in transforming prenatal care will become critical to improving birth outcomes, reducing health inequities and realizing savings for the healthcare system,” she said.
Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI) is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.
MoMath, the National Museum of Mathematics, is giving New York City’s young math aficionados a chance to practice their skills in a fun, inclusive environment through its MoMathlon tournament program. MoMath Executive Director and CEO Cindy Lawrence started the program after she witnessed a decline in interest among middle-and-high-school-aged students. She wanted to give young math lovers a supportive, inclusive space to come together and share their interest in mathematics.
Thanks to the MoMathlon tournament, NYC’s middle schoolers are reigniting their enthusiasm for math. On March 4, NYMetroParents highlighted the program and its upcoming Tournament of Champions. While COVID-19 concerns have arisen since its publication, delaying many events, MoMath hasn’t slowed down its efforts to make math fun and accessible to New York City’s students—check out their online event listing here.
MoMath is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.
Continuity of one-on-one care for first-time parents and their children can make a world of difference. A new nonprofit in the state of Delaware, Action for Delaware’s Children, was recently highlighted on WDEL 101.7FM, where it used this opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of another area nonprofit and Overdeck Foundation grantee, Nurse-Family Partnership.
Nurse-Family Partnership provides low-income, first-time pregnant women with access to a registered nurse and home visits until a child’s second birthday. This enables them to not only help women have a healthy pregnancy but to provide new families with support and guidance during their child’s first years of life. “I know from first-hand experience that families in this situation, they need a break; they need something; they need help. And this program produces results,” said Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware and Action for Delaware’s Children board member Chris Kenny.
Nurse-Family Partnership is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.
A child’s education begins at home and in their communities long before they reach school age. As South Carolina’s Marion County School District superintendent, Dr. Kandace Bethea, told SmartBrief, “to build early learning, we must build communities.”
One way that Dr. Bethea and her colleagues are improving early education for South Carolina’s children is through Waterford UPSTART, which “provides parents no-cost access to high-quality early learning with a personalized online curriculum focused on literacy, numeracy, and early STEM concepts.” Additionally, if families do not have access to a laptop, the program can provide them one at no cost.
As Dr. Bethea explains, educators are there for our children, but, “as the African proverb says, it truly does take a village.”
Waterford UPSTART is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.
Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) recognized leaders as “Afterschool Champions” in innovation and excellence in afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning, and help working families. PSAYDN credited several organizations with helping shape the future of STEM education through vital policy conversations with legislative leadership. PSAYDN Director Laura Saccente explained: “Research shows that increased academic achievement, reduced criminal activity, and positive social development are results of the high-quality afterschool activities students participate in.”
Afterschool Alliance is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.
As children and families around the world grapple with a new reality during the novel coronavirus pandemic, some familiar faces are making it a little easier for all of us: Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, and their friends.
Sesame Workshop has launched a new platform for kids and families called “Caring for Each Other,” which supports children and parents with Sesame Street content, learning activities, and virtual playdates. Available in the U.S. and around the world in multiple languages, Sesame Workshop is providing “new content on topics like hand washing, how to cough or sneeze properly, and how taking good care of yourself means taking good care of others.”
“While we don’t always know what to expect, we know that Sesame Street friends have the power to convey simple strategies and messages to help children and the caring adults in their lives find comfort,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for U.S. Social Impact. From a muppet’s PSA to parents to “take a moment for yourself” to “Cookie Monster’s Snack Chat” to resources on “Talking to Children about COVID-19,” Sesame Workshop is creating content to help kids and adults alike.
Sesame Street is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.
No “Business As Usual” with COVID-19
In March, Overdeck Family Foundation joined “a growing group of foundations [that] pledge no “business as usual” with COVID-19.” The foundation signed the Council of Foundations’ COVID-19 pledge, which includes commitments to loosening restrictions on current grants and reducing reporting burdens for grantees.
PBS SoCal Launches Family Math
Early math skills can make a huge difference in children’s lives. In late February, Associate Program Officer Gemma Lenowitz joined the Compton Superintendent, board members, and community partners for an event hosted by Omo Moses, founder of MathTalk, and the PBS SoCal team to celebrate the launch of the PBS SoCal Family Math website—a resource made possible through Overdeck Family Foundation and Heising-Simons Foundation funding and partnerships throughout Southern California. The goal of the initiative is to give families access to fun, developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant math opportunities in their communities—as well as in libraries, Head Start centers, and schools.
The Road to Readiness
Last month, our Early Impact team published The Road to Readiness: The Precursors and Practices that Predict School Readiness and Later School Success, which aims to understand the key drivers of school readiness, the contributing factors throughout a child’s early years, and the parent/adult behaviors that best support child development.
“The early years of a child’s life are a critical time for learning. As such, we hope this report is helpful not only to our grantee partners, but to other organizations, funders, and foundations in early childhood education as they consider how they conduct and measure their work.” Read more on our blog.
In late February and early March, Overdeck staff attended two STEM conferences. At February’s at Caltech Early Childhood STEM Conference, Associate Program Officer Gemma Lenowitz joined Kim Brenneman of the Heising-Simons Foundation in presenting on the family math movement to an audience of educators and administrators from across California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Colorado.
The following month at the STEM Ecosystems Convening, Overdeck Family Foundation was recognized for our technical assistance to ecosystems engaged in state and local STEM advocacy.