Today the Walton Family Foundation announced investments totaling more than $159 million in education reform initiatives for 2011 – the largest single-year investment in education reform. Grants were made to organizations and programs that empower parents, particularly in low-income communities, to choose among quality, publicly funded schools for their children.

Having invested more than $1 billion in education reform, the Walton Family Foundation is the largest donor to initiatives that support parental choice and competition within education. This focused investment strategy is intended to fuel increased achievement in several local public school systems. The foundation believes that when families are empowered with quality choices and information, they can help transform public education in their local community and the nation.

“The Walton Family Foundation supports organizations that operate with a sense of urgency and an unrelenting commitment to raising student achievement, particularly in low-income communities,” said Buddy D. Philpot, Executive Director of the Walton Family Foundation. “In 2011, legislators across the country responded to the demands of millions of parents and expanded access to publicly funded educational options with unprecedented commitment. These bold policy steps reinforce the need and desire for choice from families across the United States. When all parents have the ability to choose quality schools for their children, a competitive dynamic emerges that can inspire the broader public school system to improve, helping transform public education in our nation.”

In 2011, legislators across the country expanded access to public charter schools and publicly financed scholarships for private schools, while simultaneously rethinking the role of parents in their children’s education and the teacher evaluation process. Maine became the 42nd state to allow charter schools and the public charter school movement expanded by 500 schools to enroll more than two million students annually. For the first time, more than 200,000 low-income families sent their children to private school with publicly financed scholarships, with lawmakers in 12 states creating, expanding or restoring 17 K-12 scholarship programs. In Texas, Mississippi and California, parents are now able to act collectively to hand over their chronically failing schools to new management, administrators or teachers. In 14 states, teachers can be dismissed based upon poor evaluations, which include significant measures of student performance.

The foundation focuses on 16 investment sites throughout the nation that serve high concentrations of low-income families and don’t offer high-performing schools to all their students. They include Albany, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit,Harlem, New York, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Newark, New Jersey, Phoenixand Washington, D.C.

In many of the 16 investment sites where there is a high concentration of publicly funded educational options, students enrolled in public charter and private schools with the support of public scholarships are outperforming their peers. In New Orleans, for example, where more than 70 percent of students are enrolled in public charter schools and 1,700 students afford tuition for private schools with the state’s voucher program, only 36 percent of schools in the Recovery School District fail to meetLouisiana’s minimum academic standards. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, this rate was about 60 percent.

The foundation also announced large, multi-year strategic investments in each of its three key initiatives this year:

  • Shaping Public Policy

California Charter Schools Association – $15 million
The foundation’s investment is expected to allow 100,000 additional children the ability to attend a high-quality public charter school over the next three years.

  • Creating Quality Schools

KIPP Foundation – $25.5 million
The foundation’s investment will double the number of students who attend KIPP schools over the next five years.

  • Improving Existing Schools

Teach For America – $49.5 million
The foundation’s investment will allow Teach For America to double the size of its teaching corps over five years.

The foundation looks to a number of metrics to determine progress, including the increasing number of high-quality schools available to low-income parents. Ultimately, student achievement determines success, and the long-term goal is to raise student achievement and close the persistent performance and attainment gap between low-income children and their affluent peers.

K-12 Education Reform
Grantmaking Profile

2011 Education Reform Grants – $159,049,864

By Initiative
Shaping Public Policy – $58,122,888
Creating Quality Schools – $73,450,647
Improving Existing Schools – $26,050,991
Research and Evaluation Grants – $1,425,339

Top Grantees
Charter School Growth Fund – $22,900,000
Teach For America (National) – $12,572,500
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) – $6,783,114
KIPP Foundation – $6,404,020
GreatSchools Inc – $4,775,000

Total Number of 2011 Grantees – 216

Grant Totals by Investment Site
Albany – $3,012,425
Atlanta – $2,520,000
Boston – $2,999,415
Chicago – $3,023,393
Denver – $7,961,899
Detroit – $2,494,002
Harlem (NY) – $2,470,000
Indianapolis – $2,565,000
Los Angeles – $9,643,100
Memphis – $1,447,838
Milwaukee – $5,232,000
Minneapolis – $970,961
New Orleans – $5,274,487
Newark (NJ) – $1,697,649
Phoenix – $1,926,010
Washington, DC – $8,370,944

2010 K-12 Education Reform Grants – $157,220,283

Click here for full list of 2011 K-12 Education Reform Grantees


About the Walton Family Foundation and K-12 Education Reform
Driven by the urgent need to dramatically raise student achievement, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, the Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $1 billion to date in initiatives that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education. Empowering parents to choose quality schools, regardless of type – traditional public, private or public charter school – will help spur the bold transformation of our national K-12 system of public education. Our nation’s children will only reach their potential in today’s global economy by having access to a high-quality, publicly funded education. Visit the foundation at www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org.

About the Walton Family Foundation
When Sam and Helen Walton launched their modest retail business in 1962, one of their goals was to increase opportunity and improve the lives of others along the way. This guiding principle has played a pivotal role in the phenomenal growth of their small enterprise into a global retail leader. This principle also drives the philanthropic mission of the Walton Family Foundation.

Today the foundation is more focused than ever on sustaining the Walton’s timeless small-town values and deep commitment to making life better for individuals and communities alike. By working with grantees and collaborating with other philanthropic organizations, the foundation is dedicated to making a positive difference in three focus areas:

  • Systemic K-12 education reform
  • Freshwater and marine conservation
  • Quality of life initiatives in our home region

During 2010, the foundation invested more than $1.49 billion in domestic and international projects that addressed significant social and environmental issues, and sought to create exciting new opportunities. The foundation continues to implement and expand grant making to fund a positive difference in many diverse communities – and in the lives of the people who call them home. For more information, visit www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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