Philanthropic Organizations Making an Impact in Competency-Based Education

Editor’s Note: This post is an appendix to a recently released report on competency-based education entitled Show What You Know: The Landscape of Competency-Based Education.

The shift to competency-based education (CBE) is inevitable and well underway, but we still have quite a ways to go.

We’ve been looking into what schools, districts, networks, and impact organizations are doing to accelerate progress toward an effective CBE system, and we will be releasing a full publication highlighting our research and analysis. In the meantime, we have assembled a series of initial lists of positive examples.

This particular list features philanthropic organizations making an impact in CBE and includes links to the organization and some of its CBE-related materials (we published a related blog focused on impact organizations such as iNACOl, Competency Works and JFF). It is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather a sampling of organizations identified as exemplars by people we’ve interviewed and/or other sources we’ve encountered in our research. We invite you to suggest other organizations making a difference in the comments section below.

Achieve: Non-profit education reform organization that works with states to “raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability.” The organization provides technical assistance, convenes states experts and partners, conducts research and, develops advocacy resources. Their work on competency-based pathways can be found here.

Barr Foundation: In its education portfolio, Barr “partners with others to rethink secondary education and build a variety of new school models that fit the needs and strengths of their own community to bring greater success to all students.” They have funded several of the leading competency-based education reports.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: The Gates Foundation’s K-12 education portfolio supports “innovation that can improve U.S. K-12 public schools and ensure that students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college.” The portfolio has a dedicated site with a vast amount of thought leadership from the foundation and its grantees.

Carnegie Corporation of New York: Carnegie’s education grantmaking is focused on helping “American public education prepare all students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to be active participants in a robust democracy and to be successful in the global economy.” The education focus areas are leadership and teaching to advance learning, new designs to advance learning, parent and family engagement, pathways to postsecondary success, and integration learning and innovation. They are a funder of several of the leading competency-based education reports.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: The initial focus of CZI includes “supporting science through basic biomedical research and education through personalized learning.” They have awarded $15 million on personalized learning. CZI has funded several of the leading reports on competency-based education.

Donnell-Kay Foundation: A private family foundation that invests in “projects, programs, and people who seek systemic solutions to strengthening the experience of learning for kids from birth to career.” DK has funded several of the leading reports on competency-based education.

Hewlett Foundation: Hewlett’s education portfolio “makes grants to help students succeed in college, work and civic life by building towards deeper learning competencies and expanding access to open educational resources.”

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation: A leading advocate for quality formative assessment, data interoperability, and sponsor of the Ed-Fi data standard.

Nellie Mae Education Foundation: The nonprofit works to “reshape public education, to ensure every student gets the skills they need to be successful and contribute to society.” The Foundation’s grantmaking priorities are in the New England area and are focused on Building Public Understanding and Demand; Building Educator Ownership, Leadership and Capacity; Developing Effective Systems Designs; and Advancing Quality and Rigor of Student-Centered Practices. Nellie Mae has funded several of the leading reports on competency-based education.

Source: Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Rogers Family Foundation: A private family foundation that primarily invests in Oakland (CA) public schools. The foundation seeks to “positively transform the educational experience of students furthest from the opportunity.” There are three priorities within their education portfolio: redesigning or creating new high-quality schools, blended personalized learning, and early literacy.

Sandler Foundation: The foundation invests in “strategic organizations and exceptional leaders that seek to improve the rights, opportunities, and well-being of others, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.”

Who else would you add? As mentioned, please feel free to contribute to the lists by adding a comment below.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for follow-up lists that will highlight great CBE tools, publications and resources, advocacy organizations, and more! And be sure to check back for the final publication.

This post is part of a series focused on competency-based education in partnership with XQ Institute. The series highlights findings from research and interviews conducted during the development of the upcoming white paper, “Show What You Know: The State of Competency-Based Education.”

For more, see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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