12 Major Foundations Committ $500 Million to Education Innovation in Concert with U.S. Department of Education’s $650 Million “Investing in Education” Fund

Private Foundations Also Launch Online Registry to Help Schools and Programs Access Funds

To dramatically improve student learning outcomes, 12 national foundations have committed $500 million in 2010 funds to leverage the U.S. Department of Education’s $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund aimed at similarly aligned investments, making more than $1 billion available to help expand promising innovations in education that support teachers, administrators, technology tools, and school design across all K-12 schools-public, private and public charter. 

The foundations’ investments are a continuation of longstanding efforts to foster the innovation education sector. Those efforts include programs that revamp teacher and principal training, spur integrated technology tools for teaching and learning and create capacity for alternative high quality schools, as well as new models for school design. While each participating foundation will maintain independence in determining which programs to fund, the combined $1.1 billion in resources now available to non-profits, state and local education agencies, traditional public schools and public charter schools will catalyze and grow cutting-edge ideas.

“For too long, private investors have been the only ones to seek out and invest in big ideas still operating on a small scale,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Department of Education is now taking its cue from these foundations and investing $650 million in innovation, which the foundations will leverage through their $500 million commitment. This historic coordinated effort between the Department of Education and philanthropy will provide more than $1 billion for innovation in education in 2010.”

Participating foundations include The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Carnegie Corporation of New York; Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; Ford Foundation; John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Lumina Foundation for Education; Robertson Foundation; The Wallace Foundation; The Walton Family Foundation; The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation; and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, noted, “Much of what Secretary Duncan is currently addressing at the Department builds on existing foundation investments in education. As such, the 12 foundations realized this is a significant moment to seriously advance student learning so that all of our young people are prepared to succeed in a global economy and for citizenship in a complex world. It was time to maximize our collective efforts.”

The foundations also are launching the Foundation Registry i3, a new online application that aims to simplify the private funding application process for potential grantees and increase access and visibility for new, especially smaller, applicants. It also aims to improve the ability for foundations to examine investment opportunities and better coordinate efforts with the U.S. Department of Education around the i3 Fund. While the Registry i3 will enable applicants to register their proposal just once to reach a broad set of foundations for potential support, each foundation will maintain its own decision-making authority to determine which programs fit within their investment strategies. The Registry i3 is now available at http://foundationregistryi3.org.

“We believe the Registry i3 will pave the way for a new approach to leverage technology for philanthropic collaboration-increasing access, efficiency and effectiveness to drive greater impact in the field,” said Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We strongly encourage i3 applicants to take advantage of the Registry i3 and look forward to evaluating and learning from this experience.”

The foundations saw a unique opportunity to foster connections between public and private funds and to expand the reach of investments previously developed through foundation funds that show promise, especially in the highest-need areas. The $500 million committed in 2010 will help support and scale innovations with evidence of effectiveness within three broad categories: 

  • $233,212,635 in Innovation in the Classroom Funds will be used to scale practices and programs that recruit and train effective teachers and school leaders, improve the use of data for professional development and high quality assessments, complement the implementation of high standards, improve early learning outcomes, support college access & success, improve education in Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), support the unique needs of English language learners and students with disabilities and promote digital learning models.
  • $178,114,911 in Innovative School Models Funds will go towards expanding effective practices in turning around low-performing schools; providing support for high-quality school choices including charters and alternative school designs; as well as for digital learning and supporting extended learning time.
  • $95,059,728 in Sustainability of These Innovations Funds will help ensure that innovations have long-term impact and become a part of the broader education landscape. Funds will be used for research and evaluation of the effectiveness of the innovations and for growing the public support and capacity necessary for a more robust innovation sector. Funds in this category will also be used to develop platforms to share information across jurisdictions to continuously improve the field.

In addition to funding programs and strategies aligned with the i3 Fund, many foundations are also trying to help eligible organizations, schools and schools districts apply to the i3 Fund. Recognizing the challenges many face in applying for funding, private foundations have worked together to develop tools that will help facilitate outreach and technical assistance, as well as to help applicants meet the private match requirement.

For example, the Rural School and Community Trust, with a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, is providing technical assistance to rural communities to help them apply for i3 funding. Recognizing that rural communities are historically at a disadvantage for accessing private capital, the Kellogg and Walmart Foundations committed $9 million for a fund to help provide the required private matching money for highly rated rural i3 applicants.

The foundations and the public sector are jointly focusing on promising programs in recruiting and training teachers and school leaders; expanding clear, consistent, college- and career- ready standards and high-quality assessments; and scaling new school designs. The group of foundations believes these innovations, assessed for their efficacy, have the potential to improve student learning, especially for those most in need.

To learn more information about each of these foundations, please visit:



Samara Yudof