K-12 Education

Philanthropy and Advocacy

May 17, 2013

What We’re Reading

We like to point out that our program’s acronym is also the name of the Egyptian God of Chaos because, as advocates very well know, the work of advocacy can be downright chaotic.  So we couldn’t help but be intrigued by Jal Mehta’s recently-published book on education reform fittingly titled The Allure of Order.  More than a conventional history of specific events, Mehta tracks the rise of certain ideas about education that defined the problem at hand (say, a lack of accountability) and empowered particular players to influence the reform process.  There’s much on context, audience, and networks.  A good read!

Development & Impact Evaluations

The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” recently posted 15 general strategies to make impact evaluations of development programs more, well, impactful.  These pithily-written suggestions cover everything from evaluation design and building partnerships to the multiple uses of an evaluation internally and externally.  We’re big fans of the third point: helping folks learn how to self-evaluate is as important—if not even more so—than a nice final report (though we like those too!). 

Philanthropy’s Levers of Influence

What foundations support reflects their goals and desired impact.  Ok, no surprise there.  But in “Beyond Grantmaking,” Quinn et al. explain how they took on the role of “institutional entrepreneurs” by catapulting nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs like Aspire and KIPP) to prominence in California and beyond.  Three foundation practices shaped the education reform discussion in this case: nurturing and elevating the CMO model; incorporating accountability measures to ensure its legitimacy; and supporting the careers of select CMO proponents and “emerging leaders.”  Is this advocacy?