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16 Foundations Seek To Increase Support for Reforms in N.Y.C.

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Sixteen New York City-based foundations and an anonymous donor will jointly underwrite a $2 million to $3 million project to encourage public understanding and support for school-reform efforts in that city.

The Donors Education Collaborative is expected to award 10 six-month planning grants of up to $15,000 each to community organizations in New York. In the second stage, it will select projects on a competitive basis to receive two-year implementation grants of $50,000 to $150,000 a year.

The collaborative includes large national foundations based in New York City, such as the Rockefeller and the Ford foundations, as well as such small, locally oriented funders as the Nate B. and Frances Spingold Foundation. It grew out of a meeting of local and national funders convened by the Surdna and Diamond foundations in 1992.

"We saw lots of examples of model programs and enrichment programs we had funded, and evaluations and studies," said Lorie Slutsky, the president of the New York Community Trust, which has served as the coordinating organization for the group. "But what there wasn't was a sustained financial commitment to bring new voices to the table."

While New York City is home to one-tenth of the nation's foundations--3,700--local reformers have often complained that few grantmakers support projects in their own back yard.

"This is the first time in a long time, in over a decade, where Ford has really struck out to be a major partner with local and community foundations around New York City school reform, and we think it's about time," said Allison R. Bernstein, the director of the education and culture program at the Ford Foundation.

--Meg Sommerfeld

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