Americans for the Arts, a grantee of our Performing Arts Program, recently announced that California is among ten states joining a three-year pilot program to strengthen arts education by advancing state policy:
Americans for the Arts will support each state team with customized coaching and technical assistance throughout the three-year pilot, via web-based tools and site visits. Additionally, teams will receive a direct grant of $10,000 each year of the three-year pilot program to support identified goals.
Through the three-year engagement, each state team will work toward specific objectives, resources and outcomes that they seek to impact. With issues ranging from teacher effectiveness to high school graduation requirements to Title I funding to equitable implementation of state policies—the ten states are tackling complicated education policy topics. Participating states vary greatly in size, political landscape, geography, population size, demographics, and arts education conditions.
The initial team implementing the pilot in California includes two Hewlett Foundation grantees: the California Alliance for Arts Education, the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), as well as the California Department of Education (CDE).
Nice piece from Alexandria Neason, writing at the Hechinger Report, about the new American Institute of Research study of deeper learning schools:
The report, supported by the Hewlett Foundation, found that “deeper learning” schools graduate high schoolers on time at rates 9 percent higher than other schools, a win for teachers and students alike. The study paired 13 “deeper learning” schools, all members of Hewlett’s Deeper Learning Network, with other schools that have comparable student demographics (including underserved student populations) and incoming achievement levels. Graduates of the “deeper learning” schools were over 4 percent more likely to enroll in four-year colleges, and they were slightly more likely to attend selective schools.
Can human-centered design help African teens avoid unplanned pregnancies? Our latest story combines photographs, video, text, and Program Officer Margot Fahnestock's audio to describe an innovative partnership between two grantees—the nonprofit reproductive healthcare provider Marie Stopes International and IDEO.org, a pioneer in human-centered design—working together to help teenagers in Zambia access reproductive health services.
Timothy Vollmer, writing at Creative Commons' blog, about our new policy of requiring work that comes out of project-based grants to be openly licensed:
In practice, the new policy means that nearly all of the extensive content produced with Hewlett project-based grant funds–not only works specifically commissioned as Open Educational Resources, but scholarly research, multimedia materials, videos, white papers, and more, created by grantees on subjects of critical importance–will be widely available for downstream re-use with only the condition that the creator is attributed. Text will be openly available for translation into foreign languages, and high-quality photographs and videos will be able to be re-used on platforms such as Wikipedia. Releasing grant funded content under permissive open licenses like CC BY means that these materials can be more easily shared and re-used by the public. And they can be combined with other resources that are also published under an open license: this collection grows larger every day as governments and other publicly-facing institutions adopt open policies. Promoting this type of sharing can benefit both the original creator and the foundation, as it enables novel uses in situations not intended by the original grant funding.
The Educate Girls development impact bond aims to develop a pay-for-performance model in India which will provide evidence to demonstrate that more girls are going to school and that they measurably improve their skills in both reading and math. And we all know what happens when we educate a girl. It is a key step in breaking the cycle of poverty and building stable communities. As Safeena Husain, founder and executive director of Educate Girls says, ‘the development impact bond helps us fuel scale as we attempt to reach over a million girls, with funds paying only for pure impact."
Video of the Chronicle of Philanthropylive chat from earlier this week about the new Fund for Shared Insight is now available. Fay Twersky, director of our Effective Philanthropy Group, and Hilary Pennington of the Ford Foundation spoke to the Chronicle's Alex Daniels about the effort to improve feedback loops, fund research on impact, and increase philanthropic openness.
Can we help create a more open philanthropic sector—one where we routinely share how we work, the lesson we learn, our successes and our failures? Can we help develop more open channels of communication where foundations can hear the voices of the people we seek to help? The Hewlett Foundation is part of a new group of funders that have joined forces to try.
What if the people meant to benefit from the programs that foundations support, as well as the nonprofits we finance, could contribute their needs, opinions, and experiences to help us improve our current grant-making programs and suggest ideas for the future? Imagine if all of us working for social and environmental change understood better what the intended beneficiaries of our work think and what we could do differently to ensure that we achieve our goals.
How can we learn more about the ways people experience the services and products our grantees provide? Do they find the services useful? Relevant? Are the hours of operation convenient? Is there room for improvement? If we knew the answers, might we also improve the outcomes?
It’s time to make gathering such feedback routine so that all of us, at both foundations and other nonprofits, reliably consider the perspectives and experiences of those we seek to help.
But we know such efforts are costly, in both time and money, and too few experiments have been conducted to figure out the most effective ways to get feedback that matters.
To help elevate the voices of the people our grant money is designed to help, we have joined with five other grant makers to create the Fund for Shared Insight, which will award $5-million to $6-million a year over the next three years.
In addition to the Ford Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation, initial funders of the effort include the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The JPB Foundation, Liquidnet, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, working together through a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Other funders are welcome to join, and proposals for funding are being accepted through October 15, 2014.
Nice article from Josh Dulaney, writing for the Long Beach Press Telegram, on efforts underway in the California State University system to address the rising costs of textbooks, including those of MERLOT, a grantee of our Education Program:
Twenty campuses in the CSU system run their own Affordable Learning Solutions programs.
“For most classes, students do have to purchase a textbook one way or another,” said Naomi Moy, who heads the initiative at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson. “Sometimes those textbooks are $200 or more. Most students can’t afford that when they have four or five classes.”
More than 200 of the 750 faculty members at CSUDH chose to use no-cost or low-cost alternatives to textbooks in 2012-13, according to CSU officials. At Cal Poly Pomona more than 140 chose no-cost or low-cost alternatives to textbooks.
“Those faculty have an alternative to the print textbook that would either be available in the library or a resource that is an Internet-based resource that may not be the traditional books,” Moy said.
The CSU provides more than 45,000 free instructional materials through MERLOT — Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching — which is accessed by more than 500 universities and colleges.
Carla Rivera covered similar ground for the Los Angeles Times earlier this month.