Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2011—Between 2007 and 2010, private philanthropy committed more than $6.3 billion to postsecondary education institutions or related enterprises, supporting an array of activities aimed at increasing college access, fostering degree completion, and supporting research and policy development—all to drive civic and economic development. Given this significant allocation of resources, it is essential that funding decisions answer critical questions such as what activities should be funded toward what goal, at what level of support and for how long, and where specific types of activities are likely to be impactful. The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released today at the Grantmakers for Education 2011 Annual Conference a new publication, Smart Money: Informing Higher Education Philanthropy, which offers a unique and innovative approach to help national and community foundations with identifying distinct postsecondary education-focused funding strategies and opportunities.
The Smart Money report sets out to inform philanthropic decision making to support postsecondary education practice and national degree attainment goals through “mapping metropolitan areas” based on national data of both the current degree attainment rate and the change in that rate over the past decade. With the face of the American landscape becoming increasingly metropolitan, IHEP researchers discovered that mapping each of the nation’s largest 266 metropolitan areas into four distinct quadrants (or “action zones”) provides insight into the type of ideal philanthropic intervention that would be most appropriate for that space or community to meet education and economic needs. The identified four quadrants include: (1) Workforce Development, (2) Target Programs, (3) Large-Scale Investment, and (4) Capacity Building.
Four Quadrants for Ideal Philanthropic Interventions
- Profile of Targeted Programs Intervention: Engage leaders at public, four-year institutions to step up existing efforts to increase the enrollment of local high school graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as transfer students from neighboring community colleges.
- Profile of Ideal Capacity Building Intervention: Award grants to community colleges to improve both institutional and instructional capacity through brick-and-mortar and online expansion, as well as incentives to increase the faculty ranks at community colleges and minority-serving institutions.
- Profile of Ideal Large-Scale Investment Intervention: Provide long-term assistance to K–12 school districts to establish and augment a wider range of academic and social supports that reduce school dropout and improve college readiness, such as after-school activities, college preparatory courses, and summer bridge programs.
- Profile of Ideal Workforce Development Intervention: In partnership with local, private foundations, target key community groups and labor organizations to further develop wrap-around educational, (re)training, and employment services for adult learners and displaced workers.
“Over the past decade, expectations about the role of private philanthropy in expanding access to and success in postsecondary education have increased. These expectations are based on assumptions that philanthropic organizations—both national and community foundations—can enhance the capacity and performance of postsecondary institutions,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. “Therefore, linking metropolitan areas by not only their current educational needs but their historic success at meeting those needs will advance the relevance of placed-based strategies and offer a framework for future strategic decision-making. We hope the philanthropic community considers using the ‘Smart Money approach.’”
Support for Smart Money: Informing Higher Education Philanthropy was provided by The Kresge Foundation, a $3.1 billion private, national foundation headquartered in Metropolitan Detroit, in the suburb community of Troy. The Kresge Foundation, along with Lumina Foundation for Education, also supports a competition organized by CEOs for Cities called the Talent Dividend, which complements Smart Money’s recommendations of making the link between education and cities’ economic health.
“The Kresge Foundation is deeply committed to improving postsecondary access and success for low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation students,” said William Moses, program director-education, The Kresge Foundation. “Four in five people live in a metropolitan area, and underrepresented populations are concentrated around cities. Smart Money looks at America through the lens of metropolitan areas and suggests ways in which donors of all types can work in their communities to improve postsecondary educational outcomes. We are very pleased with the result and are convinced that others will find it as useful a tool as we have.”
For more information or to download a free copy of Smart Money: Informing Higher Education Philanthropy, visit IHEP’s Web site at www.ihep.org.