Stay tuned for upcoming developments at the Washington offices of the Hudson Institute.
Chester E. Finn Jr., who served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education under President Reagan and is now a scholar at the conservative think tank, has also taken the helm of a little-known foundation he says will focus almost exclusively on K-12 reform issues.
Formally based in Mr. Finn's hometown of Dayton, Ohio, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation was founded in 1960 with the help of Mr. Finn's father, a Dayton lawyer. Mr. Fordham was a prominent Dayton businessman who died in 1944. When his widow, Thelma Fordham Pruett, died last year, her bequest significantly increased the foundation's assets.
Mr. Finn declined last week to reveal the amount of the gift, but said it will allow the foundation to focus its efforts on education reform nationally and in Dayton.
"This is definitely becoming a foundation with a philosophy and a proactive stance," Mr. Finn said in an interview.
The Fordham Foundation already has taken over partial responsibility for running the Hudson Institute-based Educational Excellence Network, which Mr. Finn co-directs with education scholar Diane Ravitch.
The Fordham Foundation has relocated to the Hudson Institute's Washington office. Mr. Finn will continue to work at the institute while also serving as Fordham's president and chief executive officer.
Mr. Finn said he's been engaged in meetings in Dayton in recent weeks to help determine what kinds of projects the foundation should focus on. He said he expects the foundation to draft white papers on the direction it intends to take.
Asked if Fordham intended to encourage or offer a voucher program in the Dayton area, he said, "It's actually premature to talk about any projects."
An announcement on the Educational Excellence Network's Web site said the foundation's work would be guided by several principles, including educational diversity, competition, and choice.
The reinvigorated foundation won't accept unsolicited grant applications, Mr. Finn stressed.
In the years before Mr. Finn took the helm, the foundation made relatively small gifts, mostly to Dayton-area charities. A financial report filed with the state of Ohio showed that the foundation gave about $82,350 last year.
--JEFF ARCHER [email protected]