Education Reform in Newark: Lessons for Philanthropy

Thursday, November 19, 2015 -
8:45am to 11:00am EST
Philanthropy New York, 1500 Broadway, 7th Floor, NYC
Members of PNY & Partner Orgs: 
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On September 24, 2010, when Mark Zuckerberg joined Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on the stage of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to announce his unprecedented gift of $100 million to transform Newark’s public schools, the studio audience gave them a standing ovation. Newark residents also responded enthusiastically: thousands came to the early public forums aimed at engaging the community. When Zuckerberg effectively doubled his gift by “challenging” other funders to match it, community members offered a different kind of match: “sweat equity.” Hundreds volunteered to work in the schools as mentors or tutors or whatever else they could do to help. 
Despite quiet murmurs of concern from local foundations that had been supporting Newark’s schools for many years, few publicly questioned the wisdom or potential impact of Zuckerberg’s gift. Five years later, Philanthropy New York’s Education Working Groups invites you to a targeted discussion of the grant and its impact. Our focus – what lessons can be drawn about how philanthropy can play a positive role in education reform at the local level.
As the five-year mark approaches, there have been many post-mortems on Zuckerberg gift. We invite you to a targeted discussion for foundation staff and officers, looking at the question:
How can philanthropy play a positive role in education reform at the local level?
Explore issues that came to the fore in Newark, such as:
  • The challenges that arise when large funders/grants (seek to/seem to) drive the public agenda
  • The infrastructures that are necessary: 
  • within philanthropy, to enable diverse philanthropic investors – veteran and novice, local and national, liberal and conservative – to work together? 
  • inside the district, to enable responsiveness, accountability and vision?
  • in the broader community, to enable philanthropy to work with the local community to develop and support a reform agenda?
  • The rapid expansion of charter schools


** A “brilliantly reported” (Alex Kotlowitz, The New York Times) and “essential history” (Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed) of the Zuckerberg gift and Newark’s subsequent education reforms. Copies will be available for purchase at the program.

Designed for

All interested funders only, especially in education and learning about collaboration. 


8:45 - 9:00 AM  Check-in
9:00 - 11:00 AM  Program

Registration is required by November 17.

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