Foundations, Corporations Make Commitments on Education Spending at White House Summit

Foundations and corporations have vowed millions in donations to address college access and affordability for low-income youth, responding to President Barack Obama’s call to action on the issue.

“Unemployment for Americans with a college degree is more than a third lower than the national average,” said Obama, speaking at a White House summit on education earlier this month. “We’ve got to make sure that more Americans of all age are getting the skills that they need to access the jobs that are out there right now.”

First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan also spoke at the event.

Over 100 commitments were made from foundations and corporate givers. More than 15 foundations made commitments in the areas of early interventions, SAT/ACT prep, institutional matches for students, strengthening remediation services and on going support throughout the undergraduate years.

Following is a list of commitments made in response to Obama’s entreaty:

JP Morgan Chase, the Overdeck Family Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation
At the summit, 100kin10 announced the launch of Fund III with $5 million, with contributions from JP Morgan Chase, the Overdeck Family Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. 100kin10 is a network of over 150,000 organizations that pledge to contribute to the preparation of 100,000 STEM teachers over the next ten years. The funds will be used to support 100kin10’s partner organizations that support STEM education.

Deloitte, Darden, Walmart, AT&T, Mutual of America, and the Samberg Family Foundation
Committing $5 million over four years to support College Summit, specifically, a collaboration called ScholarJob that will help low-income students across America connect education and employment. ScholarJob partner companies, who employ 1.8 million Americans, will work with college summit to prepare students in high school for the pathways that lead to later employment.

Helmsley Charitable Trust, New York, NY
The trust’s education program expects to invest $30 million from 2013 through 2015 to support initiatives that will increase the number of college graduates in STEM fields.

Hewlett Foundation
The foundation intends to recommend to its board that an additional $2.5 million be allocated to support the college initiative. Specifically, Hewlett plans to commit $500,000 to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching based in Stanford, Calif., for their Community College Pathways Program. The foundation will also commit $500,000 to Expeditionary Learning located in New York, for expansion of their deeper learning curriculum and related teacher professional development.

Additionally, $1 million will be proposed to support new research on “harder-to-measure” college- and career-ready student outcome indicators, including support for an upcoming White House meeting of lead researchers, agencies, and philanthropy. The foundation also proposes to award Rice University-based publisher, Open Stax, an organization that provides free and open texts to students, with a $500,000 grant.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland
Announces five-year $65 million commitment to improve retention of college students in STEM. The Institute expects to make awards to research universities who are developing effective strategies that can lead to significant and sustained improvement in the persistence in science by all students, including students who belong to groups underrepresented in science.

James Irvine Foundation, San Francisco
The foundation will provide $3.5 million in additional funding for California school districts that successfully apply for a Youth CareerConnect grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Irvine will provide a grant of $1.5 million to the California State University system to educate teachers, counselors, and principals at high schools that are part of the growing “Linked Learning” movement.

Linked learning is based on rigorous academics and real world/career experiences, with a focus on the state’s high-demand fields such as engineering, health sciences, law, entertainment, and more.

John M. Belk Endowment, Charlotte, North Carolina.
The endowment will award a three-year, $10 million grant to the College Advising Corps to increase access to higher education for low-income students in rural North Carolina high schools. As of 2014, the endowment has adopted a new mission to focus on pathways to success for underrepresented students in North Carolina, by increasing their access and completion of higher education.

Joyce Foundation, Chicago, Illinois
The Joyce Foundation awarded three grants, totaling $1.4 million, to support low-income adult learners. The grants will be used to improve outcomes of adult learners, specifically by utilizing technology. Recipients include MIT Media Lab, Digital Promise and Ed Surge.

Kresge Foundation, Detriot, Michigan
Kresge will provide $1 million to the California Community Foundation to support the Los Angeles Scholars Investment Fund. The fund provides counseling, academic preparation, financial aid, mentoring, internships, on-campus support and other services to help city youth earn post-secondary degrees.

The Foundation will also be supporting the launch of at least three new statewide “student success centers” this year. Success Centers are state wide organizations that provide support to community colleges. The centers facilitate collaboration between colleges to share student data, completion strategies and practices to improve student outcomes.

PG&E, San Francisco
The company has committed to contributing $1 million by 2016 to high school redesign efforts. PG&E has partnered with the California Department of Education to create New Energy Academies – a school-within-a-school providing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education focused on careers in the fields of energy and the environment. These funds may be used for current academies or new academies, as well as other programs that support low income youth.

The administration stressed that this would not be the only event around higher education issues. There will be a follow up summit in a year to re-evaluate the actions proposed, as well as smaller targeted meetings throughout the year.

Judith Fenlon manages the Money and Business section of The Chronicle of Social Change

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Judith Fenlon
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Money & Business Editor for The Chronicle of Social Change