Policy Patrons

Policy Patrons Philanthropy, Education Reform, and the Politics of Influence

Megan E. Tompkins-Stange, Foreword by Robert B. Schwartz
paper, 216 Pages
Pub. Date: June 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-912-9
Price: $33.00

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Policy Patrons offers a rare behind-the-scenes view of decision making inside four influential education philanthropies: the Ford Foundation, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The outcome is an intriguing, thought-provoking look at the impact of current philanthropic efforts on education.


Policy Patrons takes us deep inside traditional and venture philanthropies to learn, in the unfiltered words of decision makers, about profound shifts affecting public education and the practice of democracy. Tompkins-Stange has delivered an eye-opening portrait of this fast-changing field. — Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?

Through extensive and candid interviews with grant makers, Tompkins-Stange examines how several large foundations try to change education policy in the United States. Philanthropists rightly earn our admiration, yet they also deserve our critical attention. Policy Patrons delivers on both counts. — Rob Reich, professor, political science, and codirector, Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Stanford University

Policy Patrons is excellent reading for philanthropic leaders and concerned citizens alike. Critical and richly informed, this book will help readers make up their own minds about the balance of danger and opportunity posed when multibillionaires devote themselves to education reform. — Michael McPherson, president, Spencer Foundation

Megan Tompkins-Stange provides a brilliant and insightful account of philanthropic influence in education policy. Policy Patrons is an invaluable contribution to ongoing debates about the role of philanthropy in a democratic society. — Sarah Reckhow, assistant professor, political science, Michigan State University

Policy Patrons delivers the gospel truth about how foundations differ in goals, partner preferences, and decision styles. — Joel L. Fleishman, director of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

As inequality of all kinds continues to increase in the U.S. — and around the world — a serious debate about the role of inclusive, democratic processes in philanthropy and the foundation world would seem to be in order. Policy Patrons offers a hopeful glimpse into how such a discussion might begin. — Kyoko Uchida, Philanthropy News Digest

The book offers a unique contribution to a growing scholarly literature on philanthropy and education aimed not only toward an academics audience but those in the policy sectors as well. — Kathleen deMarrais & Elizabeth M. Pope, Teachers College Record

Policy Patrons is an important work in this emerging field of study. — N. Kraus, Choice Connect

By providing access to the decision-making and communication processes as well as the investment strategies of four of the twenty largest foundations working in the US education field, the author makes an original contribution to the age-old debate about the role which philanthropic foundations can play in public policy reform in a liberal democracy. — Annabelle Berthiaume, Liens Socio

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About the Author

Megan E. Tompkins-Stange is an Assistant Professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan. She received her PhD from Stanford University in Education Policy and Organization Studies. Her work has been published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, and in The New Education Philanthropy: Politics, Policy and Reform.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert B. Schwartz

Author Interview, Marketplace, August 2016

Author Interview on NPR Michigan Radio

Author Interview on New Books Network

Educational Innovations Series

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The New Education Philanthropy

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