When you think about education, you may just be thinking about your local elementary or high school. However, the educational system is much bigger than that.
There are approximately 131,000 public and private schools (elementary through High School) in the United States.
But, schools in the U.S. vary tremendously in quality and resources depending on where they are and local economic conditions. As a result, many nonprofit organizations have been created to help schools improve.
The U.S. educational system is complex, and nonprofit groups working in this sector try hard to ensure its success.
Educational nonprofits often tackle issues that the schools may not have the resources to solve, including under-resourced communities, opportunity gaps for students of color, raising achievement levels, and access to world-class materials for all.
We can all help support these organizations if we have a special interest in fortifying the educational system. However, because there are so many of these organizations, it can be hard to choose which to support.
Here are five of the best educational nonprofits working with schools today.
Jumpstart is a national organization to help prepare young children for success in kindergarten. It strives 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. The organization envisioned a program that would give those children the start they needed to succeed in kindergarten.
Jumpstart currently serves 14 states and the District of Columbia, reaching thousands of kids in hundreds of classrooms. The program uses college students and community volunteers to work with kids in low-income areas. The organization provides a consistent and positive environment to help them develop the necessary skills. Jumpstart promotes critical skills in language, literacy, and social-emotional development.
The organization is funded through donations and grants. Revenue comes from individuals, foundations, corporations, government programs, and in-kind contributions. Astoundingly, more than 80% of Jumpstart's operating budget goes to the program. It spends about 10% of its budget on administrative costs, and 7% goes to fundraising.
The New Teacher Project (TNTP) works to end educational inequality. Its primary goal is to create engaging classrooms, focused schools, and strategic school systems. Founded in 1997 as The New Teacher Project, the organization aims to bring great teachers to more students. As they identified barriers, the organization started publishing policy reports and partnering with more districts. It began to look at systemic issues like culture, leadership, retention, and compensation. TNTP now partners with public school systems across the country and has trained 37,000 teachers.
TNTP focuses on three areas: rigorous academics, talented people, and supportive environments. It collects 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.
CEO Dan Weisberg articulated TNTP's philosophy in an interview with Fast Company: “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 to succeed.”
TNTP receives more than half its revenue from client fees that schools pay to hire its services. The rest is made up of federal grants and private philanthropy. The organization also offers teaching fellows programs, training programs for principals, and a summer residency program awarded to teachers in high-need areas.
You can support TNTP by subscribing to its blog and emails and by donating.
The Education Trust works to close opportunity gaps for students of color and students from low-income families.
Ed Trust focuses on equity-driven, data-centered, and student-focused projects, working with educators, advocates, and policymakers.
The organization identifies and reduces achievement gaps based on data, and promote policies that help raise student achievement 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. A critical area of focus for Ed Trust has been to improve access to higher education for minority students.
According to the American Council on Education, only 31.5% of bachelor's degrees are earned by students of color.
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. Its 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.
The organization is also a big supporter of social and emotional learning in students. Moreover, Learning Forward makes sure teachers and schools set goals and monitor progress.
The organization encourages a system of teaching coaches at each school it works with. The coaches are peers of the teachers they help. Learning Forward coaches the coaches to provide the highest quality of mentorship to their fellow teachers.
Learning Forward offers tiered options for membership, including individual and district options. Also, it receives funding from foundations and corporate sponsors.
Khan Academy has a simple mission: “provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
Khan is a nonprofit and offers academic help across the spectrum to individual students and in partnership with teachers and school districts across the globe.
The online academy partners with institutions such as NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, MIT, and others to provide up-to-date information in numerous content areas for 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.
Parents and teachers can see how a child succeeds in a specific subject matter. A 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.
Khan Academy is funded by donors, including individuals, foundations, and corporations.
The Bottom Line
Organizations like Jumpstart, TNTP, The Education Trust, Learning Forward, and the Khan Academy work every day to support students of all ages. They face tough issues, but they’re creating outstanding and innovative solutions for schools, parents, and students.. Visit their websites to learn more about their strategies and about how you can get involved.