Really nice profile of Hewlett Foundation grantee The Texas Tribune on the occasion of its fifth anniversary. Justin Ellis at Nieman Journalism Lab on the innovative business model they're using to fund cutting edge public-interest journalism and the challenges that still lie ahead:
The Tribune was created to be different from the start. Combine the instincts of a reporter with the guile of a door-to-door salesman and throw in an appetite for experimentation — today, on the site’s fifth anniversary, it looks like those instincts have paid off. The staff has collected plenty of accolades for its journalism, having been recognized with the Sidney Hillman Award, Edward R. Murrow Award, IRE Award, and others. It’s averaging nearly 3 million pageviews a month. It’s on or atop any list of America’s most successful nonprofit news outlets. The reporting staff and coverage only continues to grow; it’s hiring a Washington correspondent, paid for through a $350,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Grants like that are part of why the Tribune’s business is on sound footing. In five years, the Tribune has raised nearly $27 million to support its work. While the business of journalism today offers less stability than ever before, the Tribune has been able to build a measure of security through a mix of philanthropy, donations, and sponsorships. But success brings spectators, and the Tribune’s business model has many trying to clone it and others continuing to question it.
“The reality is we’re a going concern,” says Evan Smith, the Tribune’s CEO and editor-in-chief. “We’re past the point of being able to get away with not being able to execute at the highest levels because we’re a startup.”
Which is why, five years in, with the ledger looking good and the journalism running strong, the big question for the Tribune is: How do they find more readers?
Education Program Officer Marc Chun explains the concept of "transfer" in education—taking "what was learned in one situation and apply it to new situations"—with an extended (but not belabored) analogy at The Huffington Post:
The authors of the National Research Council publication Education for Life and Work made the case that the ultimate goal of education is the ability to take what was learned in one situation and apply it to new situations. This is called "transfer," which stems from what they called "deeper learning"--mastering content through critical thinking and problem solving, communicating effectively, collaborative problem solving, learning how to learn, and maintaining an "academic mindset" (or the belief in yourself as a learner).
We know that this transfer happens somehow; I then wonder what schools can do to promote and measure it. To illustrate, if you'll allow me to drop a whole load of meta on you right now, I'm going to try to solve this problem by applying what I've learned from my doctoral trainingyears of research obsession with Hollywood secret agents.
Education in India is a paradox. India’s scientists and engineers are dominant in global technology, medicine and other fields. Yet 40 percent of its third graders can’t read words. “The Indian education system has always been good at the top of the distribution — which is where the elites are drawn from,” [Karthik] Muralidharan ["an associate professor of economics at the University of California at San Diego, who has studied primary education in India extensively"] said. “The design of education systems in developing countries has historically focused on screening for high-performing students as opposed to adding value to all students.”
That is changing in India — Pratham is a big reason why — but slowly. “Now in India you don’t need to explain to everyone that kids need to go to school,” Banerji said. “But that children need to learn and understand — that has another 10 years to go.”
As a bonus, the piece features a photograph from Hewlett Foundation Program Officer Dana Schmidt, who produced a photo essay about ASER and similar assessments in Africa for our blog earlier this year.
Earlier today, we published our 2013 Annual Report. As in prior years, this report contains the budget memos each of our programs prepares annually for our Board, as well as additional information about the Foundation's finances, personnel, and grantmaking. This year's report also links to a letter from Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer describing an analysis we recently undertook of trends in our grantmaking over the past decade.
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (Photo Credit: Rennet Stowe)
Rod Torrez, Executive Director of HECHO (a grantee of our Environment Program), celebrates President Obama's recent declaration of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and Latinos' role in supporting it:
The San Gabriel Mountains in particular have always been a welcome reprieve from the city for Latinos, especially for hunting and fishing, and have been increasingly valuable as a destination for outdoor education programs, with private organizations and public agencies using the area to connect many Latino urban youth to the outdoors. Moreover, the San Gabriel Mountains watershed provides a significant portion of the region's clean water supply; protecting the health of the resource is paramount to the health of communities downstream.
There are many good reasons to celebrate the new national monument. But it is important to note that the San Gabriel Mountains, along with the Rio Grande del Norte, and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments represent a new approach by protecting the land we love and respecting how we have enjoyed the land for generations. It's encouraging to know that we can continue to enjoy these places for generations to come. It's also satisfying to know that Latinos have played a significant role in protecting them.
Americans for the Arts, a grantee of our Performing Arts Program, recently announced that California is among ten states joining a three-year pilot program to strengthen arts education by advancing state policy:
Americans for the Arts will support each state team with customized coaching and technical assistance throughout the three-year pilot, via web-based tools and site visits. Additionally, teams will receive a direct grant of $10,000 each year of the three-year pilot program to support identified goals.
Through the three-year engagement, each state team will work toward specific objectives, resources and outcomes that they seek to impact. With issues ranging from teacher effectiveness to high school graduation requirements to Title I funding to equitable implementation of state policies—the ten states are tackling complicated education policy topics. Participating states vary greatly in size, political landscape, geography, population size, demographics, and arts education conditions.
The initial team implementing the pilot in California includes two Hewlett Foundation grantees: the California Alliance for Arts Education, the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), as well as the California Department of Education (CDE).
Nice piece from Alexandria Neason, writing at the Hechinger Report, about the new American Institute of Research study of deeper learning schools:
The report, supported by the Hewlett Foundation, found that “deeper learning” schools graduate high schoolers on time at rates 9 percent higher than other schools, a win for teachers and students alike. The study paired 13 “deeper learning” schools, all members of Hewlett’s Deeper Learning Network, with other schools that have comparable student demographics (including underserved student populations) and incoming achievement levels. Graduates of the “deeper learning” schools were over 4 percent more likely to enroll in four-year colleges, and they were slightly more likely to attend selective schools.
Can human-centered design help African teens avoid unplanned pregnancies? Our latest story combines photographs, video, text, and Program Officer Margot Fahnestock's audio to describe an innovative partnership between two grantees—the nonprofit reproductive healthcare provider Marie Stopes International and IDEO.org, a pioneer in human-centered design—working together to help teenagers in Zambia access reproductive health services.
Timothy Vollmer, writing at Creative Commons' blog, about our new policy of requiring work that comes out of project-based grants to be openly licensed:
In practice, the new policy means that nearly all of the extensive content produced with Hewlett project-based grant funds–not only works specifically commissioned as Open Educational Resources, but scholarly research, multimedia materials, videos, white papers, and more, created by grantees on subjects of critical importance–will be widely available for downstream re-use with only the condition that the creator is attributed. Text will be openly available for translation into foreign languages, and high-quality photographs and videos will be able to be re-used on platforms such as Wikipedia. Releasing grant funded content under permissive open licenses like CC BY means that these materials can be more easily shared and re-used by the public. And they can be combined with other resources that are also published under an open license: this collection grows larger every day as governments and other publicly-facing institutions adopt open policies. Promoting this type of sharing can benefit both the original creator and the foundation, as it enables novel uses in situations not intended by the original grant funding.