#JusticeIsTheFoundation: Assessing Philanthropy’s Commitment to Racial Equity & Justice in Education

Sep 06, 2022
  • Description

2020 was a year marked by movements and popular resistance unprecedented in scope in the wake of the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. These waves of protest were matched by waves of press releases, from foundations and businesses large and small, pledging not only verbal support for addressing racism but significant monetary pledges to make it a reality. Estimates of the total amount pledged ranged from the tens of billions of dollars on the low end to McKinsey's mid-2021 estimate of $200 billion.

In December 2021, the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) released a report examining whether the new funding commitments to racial equity and justice made by foundations and large corporations were fulfilled. PRE's finding, that the amount of confirmed money distributed was a mere shadow of the public pledges made, was corroborated by a report by PolicyLink and The Bridgespan Group in June 2021 after more grant data had been collected.

The story the data tells of 2020 is that when it comes to race, too often in philanthropy we talk the talk but we're less likely to finish the race.

One of the most critical needs during the dual COVID and racial injustice pandemic was supporting children and families and protecting young people's opportunity to learn and to thrive. As such, it was critically important that education and funders deliver at an accelerated rate.

The Schott Foundation for Public Education worked with Candid, a center for nonprofit resources and tools, over the past two years to critically examine the ultimate measure of K-12 education philanthropy's priorities: where the grant dollars go. Our project, #JusticeIsTheFoundation, assesses the collective philanthropic impact of giving in the education sector through a lens of racial equity and racial justice. The data tells the story of what philanthropy prioritizes and reveals blind spots in our collective response. In early 2021, we launched the project with the first data set from that collaboration, based on grants made from 2017-2019. In this report, we're covering grants made from 2018-2020.

As you will see in the pages ahead, K-12 education philanthropy has a long way to go to meet the demands of this urgent moment.