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Better To Give: Philanthropic gifts to education are continuing to increase, as grantmakers focus their efforts on teacher-quality programs and partnerships between schools and community businesses and organizations.

Funding for education remains the No. 1 priority of America's 1,000 largest foundations and makes up about 25 percent of the total $19.5 billion donated in 1997, according to a report last month from the Foundation Center in New York City. Some $1.9 billion was given to education that year, an increase of 3 percent from 1996.

Some $501 million--about 6 percent of all foundation dollars--went to K-12 projects in 1997, up from $396 million the year before.

Higher education garnered $794 million--15 percent of all dollars--given by foundations in 1997, up from $730 million in 1996, according to "Foundation Giving: Yearbook of Facts and Figures on Private, Corporate, and Community Foundations."

The remaining gifts to education were used to help pay for everything from educational libraries to adult and vocational education programs to student sports programs, the report says.

Colleges and universities have historically received more funding than K-12 initiatives because grantmakers see such institutions as affecting entire communities, said Steven Lawrence, the director of research for the Foundation Center. In addition to providing education, they provide medical research, live theater and music, and museums, he said.

Meanwhile, K-12 projects continue to gain importance in the philanthropic world, said Laura Fleming, the program coordinator for Grantmakers for Education, a Washington-based organization that aids foundations interested in schools.

"People realize that unless we make some progress in K-12 and raise the standards there, higher education isn't going to be a big issue," Ms. Fleming said

Program directors from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Lilly Endowment Inc., all foundations based in the Midwest that give substantial sums to education, say their organizations have increased giving to projects aimed at forming partnerships between K-12 schools and community businesses and groups.

"Ultimately, if you really want to see a shift in kids, you need to focus on community-based efforts," said Anne C. Petersen, the senior vice president for programs for the Kellogg Foundation.

To receive a copy of the Foundation Center's report, call the center at (212) 620-7310 or send an e-mail to [email protected]. The cost is $24.95.

--Julie Blair [email protected]

Vol. 18, Issue 34, Page 5

Published in Print: May 5, 1999, as Philanthropy
Web Resources
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