The New Education Philanthropy

The New Education Philanthropy Politics, Policy, and Reform

Edited by Frederick M. Hess and Jeffrey R. Henig
paper, 248 Pages
Pub. Date: December 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-871-9
Price: $34.00

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Philanthropic foundations play an increasingly influential role in education research, policy, and practice—yet this sector has been subject to little research-informed analysis. In The New Education Philanthropy, Frederick M. Hess and Jeffrey R. Henig convene a diverse group of scholars and analysts to examine the shifting role of education philanthropy over the last decade, giving particular attention to the large national foundations—Gates, Broad, Walton, and Lumina, among others—that are increasingly aggressive and strategic in their use of funds. Drawing on original research, they investigate and assess the impact of new patterns in foundation giving for advocacy and research; the divergence in funding strategies between old and new foundations; the extension of “venture philanthropy” to higher education; and the backlash against “reform” philanthropy as well as the unlikely partnerships it forges.


This remarkable volume provides penetrating analyses of every corner of the changing education landscape, from a range of philosophical perspectives rarely juxtaposed in today’s polarized discourse. The findings are both encouraging and disturbing. The New Education Philanthropy is essential reading for all parties in the debate over education. — Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?

Hess, Henig, and the contributing authors have made a valuable contribution to the dialogue about the appropriate role of wealthy donors in K–12 education. Collectively, The New Education Philanthropy gets it right. A couple of billion dollars invested in reform will never ‘leverage’ overnight transformation but it can have a profound impact worth studying. — Jim Blew, president, StudentsFirst, and former advisor, The Walton Family Foundation

Ten years ago, big foundations confronted the fact that philanthropic dollars were mere buckets into a sea of public spending on education, and many shifted their strategies. This exemplary volume gathers together a diverse group of exceptional authors to explore the recent and more muscular philanthropic approach. — Rob Reich, professor of political science, Stanford University, and faculty codirector, the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

The New Education Philanthropy provides a broad-based and penetrating look at the role of philanthropy in education reform. — Adam Gamoran, president, William T. Grant Foundation

This collection of work is politically balanced with a distinct effort made at bringing a diverse selection of topics, authors, and divergent ideological perspectives to the surface....[I]t is a sustained, rigorous critique of recent philanthropy while keeping in mind the context of its broader historical trajectory. — Dino Sossi, Teachers College Record

This book provides a much needed analysis of newer foundation giving and its impact on education policy.  — Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos & Bethany Richmond, Teachers College Record

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About the Editors

Frederick M. Hess is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). An educator, political scientist, and author, he studies K–12 and higher education issues. His books include The Cage-Busting Teacher, Cage-Busting Leadership, Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age, The Same Thing Over and Over, Education Unbound, Common Sense School Reform, Revolution at the Margins, and Spinning Wheels. He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, Rick Hess Straight Up, and is a regular contributor to The Hill and to National Review Online. Hess’s work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and National Affairs. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind. Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review board for the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University. He holds an MA and PhD in government, as well as an MEd in teaching and curriculum from Harvard University.

Jeffrey R. Henig is a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as chair of the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of ten books, the most recent being The End of Exceptionalism in American Education: The Changing Politics of School Reform (Harvard Education Press, 2013). His book Spin Cycle: How Research Gets Used in Policy Debates: The Case of Charter Schools (Russell Sage Foundation, 2008) won the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award in 2010. In addition, his coauthored books The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics and the Challenge of Urban Education (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Building Civic Capacity: The Politics of Reforming Urban Schools (University Press of Kansas, 2001) were each named the best book written on urban politics by the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Henig’s scholarly work on urban politics, racial politics, privatization, and school reform has appeared in journals including the American Journal of Education, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Journal of Urban Affairs, Policy Sciences, Political Science Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, and Urban Affairs Review. His more popular writing has appeared in outlets such as Education Week, Chronicle of Higher Education, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and New York Times.