Philanthropy Roundtable supports innovative schools, philanthropists and initiatives that promote K-12 choice across the country. As we celebrate National School Choice Week, we highlight a few worthy organizations, initiatives, and donors who seek to expand educational opportunities for all.
Growing school choice: Charter schools, private schools, virtual schools, and public schools have seen increased demand in recent years as parents increasingly seek affordable quality education options. Below are two examples of innovative school designs that strive to remove barriers to upward mobility, expand opportunities, and reward hard work and perseverance.
- Great Hearts: Great Hearts is the largest network of classic charter schools in the United States, committed to the mission of cultivating the hearts and minds of students through the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. Great Hearts Schools, “which aim to teach students how to think rather than what to think, serve more than 20,000 students in 33 brick-and-mortar buildings in Arizona and Texas. Administrators use a broad curriculum that includes academics, but does not focus solely on student achievement, a concept school leaders find necessary but insufficient.
- Vertex Partnership Academies: Vertex Partnership Academies seeks to be the first-of-its-kind network of character-based International Baccalaureate public high schools dedicated to equality of opportunity, individual dignity, and our common humanity. Our recent profile of the school, located in the Bronx, New York, explains why its core values – “courage, justice, temperance, wisdom” – help set children on the path to success.
Philanthropists create opportunities: From start-ups to established schools, philanthropy is critical to the future of educational choice. Below are two philanthropists who have dedicated their time and treasures to transforming student lives.
School Choice Awareness and Rewards: Millions of American children now attend the schools of their parents’ choosing thanks to the establishment of vouchers, scholarship tax credits, charter schools, open enrollment, and education savings account programs across the country. Despite this, the Lincoln Network found that up to 80 percent of parents surveyed could not name a single school outside of their local zoned public school. Public awareness and growth are now priorities for many groups and organizations as the movement grows stronger. Here are some initiatives that help parents and schools connect.
- Schoolahoop: Schoolahoop, an initiative of the Lincoln Network Studio, is a free service that uses technology to help parents choose their children’s schools. It provides parents with school options in their area, scholarships, and also helps with the application process. Thanks to generous philanthropists, the service is available in Texas, Florida, Arizona and Kansas City, but the organization is working hard to make its technology available to every household across the country. Read more about Schoolahoop here.
- Center for Education Reform (CER): CER is an education reform organization that seeks to expand innovation and opportunity for students by generating awareness of school choice options, speaking with policymakers, and connecting innovators and their products with investors and schools to accelerate their impact. CER partnered with Jeff and Janine Yass and Forbes to found the Yass Prize, which celebrates education providers who best demonstrate the STOP principles: sustainable, transformative, exceptional, and permissionless. Arizona Autism Charter Schools was recently honored with this $1 million award.
- VELA Education Fund (VELA): VELA “supports everyday entrepreneurs who are boldly reinventing education.” VELA offers grants to fund innovative learning initiatives and recently helped Prenda, a free microschool, expand and open the door for more low-income families to access its programs.
At Philanthropy Roundtable, we believe that every child deserves an outstanding education that opens up new opportunities and rewards hard work. The school choice movement is growing across the country and we are proud to stand alongside partners who inspire students to reach their full potential.