Stories of Impact: National Funders Join Foundation in Boosting Education Initiatives

Ford Foundation expanded learning opportunities grantee conveningExpanded learning opportunities grantee convening with the Ford Foundation and Rose Community FoundationDenver is getting noticed for progress in K-12 education reform, and it’s attracting national attention and funders as a result.

Two such funders, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ford Foundation (Ford) are investing in education in Denver. One way they effectively leverage their investments is by partnering with Rose Community Foundation.

Both national foundations came to us citing our reputation as a trusted partner in the Denver community and our leadership in education reform. Each created sizeable designated grant funds at Rose Community Foundation, which we manage and administer to grantees throughout Greater Denver.

“We have long been impressed with the credibility and reputation of Rose Community Foundation, and there were significant areas of alignment between Ford’s values, strategies, and approaches in education and those held by Rose,” says Dr. Jeannie Oakes, director of educational opportunity and scholarship programs at the Ford Foundation.

“Rose’s deep connections to the local community provide us with unique insights and information about how to connect the dots across issue areas and funders so that our work is nested in – and contributing to – broader efforts at educational improvement, access to opportunity, and community change in the region,” added Dr. Oakes.

Expanded Learning Opportunities: A Shared Focus

Ford is partnering with Rose Community Foundation to manage more than $1 million in support of efforts around expanded learning opportunities (ELO) in Denver. “ELO practices examine how to expand and deepen learning opportunities for all students,” explains Dr. Janet Lopez, Rose Community Foundation education program officer. “Extending the hours in a school day or year, blended learning (technology in the classroom), and competency-based progression (when students progress based on mastery of information) – are all examples of ELO models.”

Rose Community Foundation has been tracking and supporting ELO efforts for several years. “It’s a strong fit with our priority on systemic change to reduce the achievement gap in K-12 schools,” says Dr. Lopez. The concept is still in its infancy, but successes are emerging. “We know of 60 schools in the Greater Denver area that we believe are doing some element of these strategies,” explains Dr. Lopez. In fact, Rose Community Foundation Network was instrumental in bringing one successful organization, Generation Schools, to Denver.

Educator Effectiveness: Aligned Interests

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also selected Rose Community Foundation to administer grants in Denver based on our experience in educator effectiveness. The Gates grants support grassroots outreach efforts to parents regarding Colorado’s new ground-breaking educator evaluation law and the state’s new academic standards. This effort, called the Colorado Civil Rights and Equity Alliance Project, includes the following grantees:

We’re very encouraged by our partnerships with prominent national funders and to see Denver and the reform efforts supported by the Foundation earning national acclaim as we work to ensure all our children get the very best public education.

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