Study Ranks Local Schooling Foundations

Education Week
November 3, 2014

Local K-12 education foundations with $2 million or more in annual revenues topped a performance ranking of these nonprofit organizations that support individual school districts.

Foundations with smaller treasure chests were also recognized in the report, which was released in September by a private consulting group.

The foundations' performance was measured according to eight key indicators which the Tampa, Fla.-based Dewey & Associates extracted from the Form 990s that nonprofits are required to submit to the Internal Revenue Service. The rankings were based on annual revenues, revenues per student, total assets, assets per student, investment income, total program expenses, expenses per student, and volunteers.

Among the top 10, four are Florida-based foundations, and two of the organizations—those in Omaha, Neb., and San Francisco—are aligned with districts that have smaller student populations. (Omaha is the 98th largest district in the country, and San Francisco is 72nd.)

Top Local Funders

Ten local education foundations from five states topped a Florida consulting group’s new performance ranking.

1. Pinellas Education Foundation (Florida)
2. Clark County Public Education Foundation (Nevada)
3. Omaha Schools Foundation (Nebraska)
4. Denver Public Schools Foundation (Colorado)
5. Philadelphia Education Fund (Pennsylvania)
6. Hillsborough Education Foundation (Florida)
7. The Fund for Public Schools (New York)
8. The Foundation for Osceola Education (Florida)
9. San Francisco Education Fund (California)
10. Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools (Florida)

In the nation's 100 largest school districts, K-12 education foundations spent more than $110 million on grants and programs for teachers and students. They raised more than $230 million to enhance public education, and they have assets of $322 million, which is a measure of their long-term sustainability, according to the study.

Dewey Caruthers, the author of the survey, said he chose to base rankings on financial information from the foundations' IRS filings because they provide objective data, but he recognizes, "It could lead people to believe, 'It's all about the money.'" In fact, the more money a foundation has, the more it can devote to program offerings, scholarships, and other contributions to K-12 education, he said. Further, he said, a better-endowed foundation is sometimes more likely to have its assets invested for income and sustainability—although not always.

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