I am writing to you in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice and police brutality. It goes without saying that our Foundation is deeply saddened by the unconscionable acts of violence and aggression that have occurred against the Black community. As education funders, we are cognizant of the social conditions and racism that negatively impact Black children from the time they are born until they leave school and beyond. This reality is part of the reason for our work.
From the beginning, our Foundation’s mission has focused on opening doors for every child in the U.S. by measurably enhancing education both inside and outside the classroom. While we still have much work to do, this is the time for organizations like ours to listen and learn more deeply, and to strengthen our partnerships with those working to overcome the inequities in our education system. To help us do our work better, we pledge to work more closely with our grantees, to better understand the challenges of those they support, and to continue to fund programs that unlock the potential of Black children.
During this difficult time, we are proud to continue to support and stand in solidarity with our grantee partners, many of whom support Black children to overcome inequity and achieve their tremendous potential. Nonprofits have been operating under immense pressure over the past several months, but through a mix of dedication and innovation, the organizations below have been able to continue serving their communities during a time of great need.
These stories are just a few examples of grantee partners who are making an immense difference in the lives of Black children and families across the country.
Saga Education offers high-dosage math tutoring to over 2,500 students, the vast majority of whom are students of color, in 28 high schools across Chicago, New York City and Washington DC. The organization, which over the last two years implemented a blended-learning version of their traditional in-person tutoring model, quickly embraced online tutoring to allow tutors to connect with students as before, only on computers versus in-person. While this fully online model still has to be studied, early findings from an RCT on Saga’s blended-learning model show that—even with the shift in in-person and on-platform tutorial time—Saga blended-learning students achieve similar outcomes to their peers in Saga’s in-person program: a gain of almost two years’ worth of math in one academic year.
New Leaders, which provides leadership training to improve instruction at America’s highest-need schools, also quickly pivoted to virtual delivery of their preparation programs and coaching. New Leaders’ alumni work with America’s highest-need students, 87% of whom are children of color. While the impact of the shift to a virtual delivery model is not yet clear, New Leaders’ in-person instruction leads to powerful student-level results: a recent analysis by RAND found New Leader principals have a positive, statistically significant impact on students’ math and literacy scores.
In the pandemic epicenter of NYC, ParentCorps, which serves predominantly children of color (~30% Black, 50% Latinx, 10% Asian, and 10% White across sites), moved quickly to virtually offer services that address escalating mental health needs for pre-K educators, children, and families. These services aim to preserve connection and support during school closures, covering topics such as empathy, self-care, routines, and child-led play. Two randomized controlled trials with more than 1,200 Black and Brown children in low-income neighborhoods in NYC showed that ParentCorps’ in-person programming has meaningful and sustained impacts on children’s academic achievement, mental health, and physical health.
BEAM, which helps students from low-income and historically marginalized communities enter advanced study in mathematics, has adapted its upcoming summer program for remote participation, which includes providing students hardware, mobile hotspots, and care packages. The organization, which serves a diverse group of low-income students (30% identify as Black, 32% as Latinx, 22% as multiracial, 10% as Asian, and 5% as White), aims to increase student interest and performance in math: 85% of students are more interested in math after BEAM’s summer programs and the median BEAM student grows 8% in ranking on the same math contests taken by top-performing affluent students.
Our Foundation believes all children should have the opportunity to unlock their potential, but more than ever, highlighting and funding organizations who predominantly support communities of color is crucial. The stories above are just a few examples of grantee partners who are making an immense difference in the lives of Black children and families across the country. I share them to shine light on the good in these dark times, and I hope you find them both inspiring and aspirational.
I am so incredibly grateful and proud to do this work alongside our partners, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue with them and with you.
– Anu Malipatil, Vice President, Education
This content originally appeared in our June newsletter. To sign up for future newsletters, please fill out the form in the footer below.