2016 Education Grantmakers Institute

Program Dates 
April 5-6 • Harvard University • Cambridge Massachusetts

Grantmakers for Education is proud to continue its longstanding partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education in its presentation of the 2016 Education Grantmakers Institute. On the heels of a successful 2015 Education Public Policy Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., funders are invited to bring a team (including colleagues and non-funder partners) to this intensive two-day program which follows up and dives deeper on a timely issue that emerged from the D.C. program: From the Fringes to the Forefront: Innovation’s place in the accountability debate.

We are proud to feature Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education, as our dinner speaker for the April 6 culminating event of the Education Grantmakers Institute. Assistant Secretary Lhamon has dedicated her life’s work to justice and civil rights. Her experience in civil rights law and public education will provide a valued and unique perspective for grantmakers at the institute.

Today, there is a drive to place early education and K-12 policy-making control with state and local leaders. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Education is urgently calling for a new and national focus on outcomes and transparency in higher education. The 2016 Education Grantmakers Institute will look at the opportunities and risks associated with accountability and postsecondary accreditation reform and more specifically, the role that philanthropy can play on these issues.

The Education Grantmakers Institute will cover three major themes rooted in education policy and the unique role of philanthropy, as well as take time to ask: What are the conversations we’re not having?

How can we utilize the past as we look to the future? Accountability… it’s at the root of the Elementary and Secondary School Act which was intended to hold school districts accountable for providing learners in disadvantaged communities with a decent education. It’s the historic function of the accreditation of our postsecondary education institutions—a “gatekeeper” of quality. More recently, it’s been at the center of the call for quality early education—a “difference maker” in children’s lifelong academic and social success. As debate rages across states and in Washington, we will be reminded of our past and the motivation behind these important reforms—equity—and discuss how we can ensure that equity is a core value that is carried forward.

How can we align accountability with the 21st-century schools movement and workforce demand? Employers need people who can think critically, transfer knowledge into multiple occupations, communicate what they are doing, and collaborate across the world. We will explore how K-12 systems need to evolve to teach, assess, and evaluate these qualities. We will examine the growing relevancy of value and affordability of postsecondary education in the accreditation process, as well as what it would look like for institutions of higher education to buck tradition in favor of widespread and continuous innovation. The larger question that will frame the conversation is: What needs to be done to prepare our learners for the future, and how can we hold our systems accountable for that across the education spectrum?

How can we garner enduring public support for improvements in education accountability and accreditation? There’s only so much work we can do behind the scenes. Public opinion can make or break public policy. In education, there is a unique role for philanthropy to play in building public will through leverage, exerting influence, and collaboration. We will take a closer look at contemporary public relations campaigns associated with policy reform movements and the lessons we can learn about what accelerates or obstructs public policy.

Additionally, in the ever-popular case study format, funders will examine how philanthropy has and continues to collaborate on evolving accountability systems and structures. We will learn about identifying windows of opportunity and moments of acceleration that have proven critical and explore the unique role of philanthropy in driving this systemic change by leveraging public policy to do so.

Registration is closed.