Best Education Nonprofits Working With Public Schools
When you think about public education, you may just be thinking about your local elementary or high school.
However, the school system is much bigger than that—there are over 98,000 public schools in the United States. With that many schools, it’s easy to see why there are so many organizations across the country that want to support public schools and their students.
The U.S. public education system is complex, and groups working in this sector try hard to ensure its success. They tackle issues including under-resourced communities, opportunity gaps for students of color, raising achievement levels, and access to world-class materials for all. However, because there are so many of these organizations, it can be hard to tell who has the best of intentions and who is making the most significant impact.
To help the public school system, you may want to find nonprofit groups in your area or across the nation. Below, we’ve shared four of the best education nonprofits working with public schools today—and one bonus organization we can’t help but rave about.
Jumpstart is a national organization to help prepare young children for success in kindergarten. They strive to ensure that every child in America has a level playing field when they begin their K-12 education. Four college students founded Jumpstart in 1993 to help kids from under-resourced communities, and they envisioned a program that would give those children the start they needed to succeed in kindergarten.
Jumpstart currently serves 13 states including the District of Columbia, reaching thousands of kids in more than 600 classrooms. The program uses college students and community volunteers to work with kids in low-income areas. They provide a consistent and positive environment to help them develop the necessary skills. Jumpstart promotes critical skills in language, literacy, and social-emotional development. Sessions have the same routine each time: welcome, reading, circle time, center time, “Let’s Find Out About It,” sharing, and goodbye.
The organization is funded through donations and grants. Revenue comes from individuals, foundations, corporations, government programs, and in-kind contributions. Astoundingly, more than 80 percent of their operating budget goes to the program. Jumpstart spends about 10 percent of its budget on administrative costs, and 7 percent goes to fundraising.
TNTP works to end educational inequality. Their primary goal is to create engaging classrooms, focused schools, and strategic school systems. They were founded in 1997 as The New Teacher Project with the goal of bringing great teachers to more students. As they identified barriers, they started publishing policy reports and partnering with more districts. They began to look at systemic issues like culture, leadership, retention, and compensation. TNTP now partners with more than 200 public school systems across the country and trained 37,000 teachers.
TNTP focuses on three areas: rigorous academics, talented people, and supportive environments. They collect data by observing classrooms and surveying teachers. TNTP uses that data to give advice, design solutions, and help districts execute ideas. They have worked with staff, individual schools, charter networks, and public school districts. They want to help students achieve more with a curriculum that stretches them and teachers that push them.
“As we visited classrooms around the country, we found teachers working hard to help their students, but we also saw pretty low-quality assignments kids were getting, and instruction that doesn’t give them a chance to do deep thinking and the type of work they’re going to need to do in order to succeed,” CEO Dan Weisberg recently told Fast Company.
TNTP receives more than half its revenue from client fees that schools pay to hire their services. The rest is made up by federal grants and private philanthropy, like contributions from the Gates Foundation. They also offer teaching fellows programs, training programs for principals, and a summer residency program awarded to teachers in high-need areas. They have a small headquarters in New York and employ staff nationwide.
You can read more about what TNTP does and how to support their ideas by visiting their blog.
The Education Trust is a group that is working to close opportunity gaps for students of color and students from low-income families.
It focuses on equity-driven, data-centered, and student-focused projects, working with educators, advocates, and policymakers. They identify and reduce achievement gaps based on data, and promote policies that help raise student achievements at all grade levels, from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary.
The Education Trust is committed to providing access to strong teachers and using college- and career-ready assessments. When it comes to higher education, they focus on access, affordability, and completion. Ed Trust also promotes policy and legislation that support all students. They have been active in conversations about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, the Higher Education Act, and more.
The Education Trust is funded by foundations, contract work, and individual donations.
Learning Forward knows that professional learning for educators is the key to success in the classroom. Their vision is better teaching, stronger leadership, and improved systems.
To achieve this vision, Learning Forward trains principals, teams, and staff to create a culture of improvement.
They’re also big supporters of social and emotional learning in students. Moreover, they make sure teachers and schools set goals and monitor progress.
“Expecting results from professional learning isn't optional,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward.
The organization hosts an immersive academy where members spend two and a half years collaborating with a coach and other instructors. Participants feel empowered to solve problems in their classrooms, schools, and districts.
Learning Forward offers tiered options for membership, including individual and district options. Also, they receive funding from foundations and corporate sponsors.
Khan Academy has a simple mission: “provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
While Khan is not technically a public school support organization, they do offer free courses on just about any subject, from math to art history.
The online academy partners with NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, MIT, and others to provide up-to-date information to students. The Khan Academy program started as a home-based tutoring program and now serves millions worldwide.
Khan’s courses support early learners as well as adults in math, science, engineering, computing, art, humanities, economics, and finance. They also provide support for test prep, college admissions, careers, and personal finance.
Moreover, Khan continues to grow. Sal Khan, the founder, recently announced new videos about US government and civics. “We’re excited to inspire students to become the next generation of informed and engaged citizens,” he said.
Parents and teachers can see how a child succeeds in a specific subject matter. The unique dashboard monitors progress and offers ways to improve. Khan Academy also shares studies that show their students excel on standardized testing and exams like the SAT. Students can start a course using just a web browser. Courses are self-paced, and there is no subscription or fee.
Choosing Public School Supporting Nonprofits for Donations
Organizations like Jumpstart, TNTP, The Education Trust, and Learning Forward work every day to support students of all ages. They face tough issues, but they’re creating outstanding and innovative solutions for schools nationwide. Visit their websites to learn more about their strategies and about how you can get involved.
Also, keep in mind many nonprofits are doing great work for public schools, both nationally and locally. Look in your area if you’re hoping to have a local impact.