How The New York Community Trust Is Shaping K-12 Education in New York

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How The New York Community Trust Is Shaping K-12 Education in New York

Collaborating with other funders takes a whole lot of patience, open-mindedness and compromise, and some foundations are clearly more skilled at it than others. Community foundations stand out in this regard. Some of the biggest funder collaborations in the country right now involve these entities, which often serve as neutral ground where funders can work with each other and other stakeholders to advance their shared goals. 

It's hard to think of a community foundation with a longer, richer track record of playing well with others than the New York Community Trust (NYCT). It's long been an important hub of multi-funder collaborations in a city with a lot of foundations, and the pace of this activity has increased over time. "Donor collaboration is on the rise because it meets many needs," NYCT President Lorie A. Slutsky has said. "By joining forces, funders leverage the resources of many to tackle larger agendas, tougher issues or long-term challenges. Collaboration also provides philanthropists with an opportunity to get involved in areas in which they are not experts or take risks they might not assume on their own."

The oldest collaborative fund housed at NYCT is a fund called the Donors’ Education Collaborative. Founded in 1995, it's dedicated to improving New York City's public schools through policy reform. We've written about it before, describing it as a vehicle "where New York's progressive education funders band together."

While charter schools and issues like teacher accountability have attracted loads of attention in New York from billionaire donors, this collaborative has a very different agenda. Its initiatives over the years have often focused on promoting greater equity in school funding and empowering low-income parents of color, immigrant families and students in education debates. It also funded efforts to revise overly harsh discipline policies in the New York's public schools and backed work in 2012 and 2013 to develop a progressive education platform, elements of which were embraced by the new de Blasio administration...

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