September 18, 2014

Release: Local Philanthropists Work Together to Transform Public Education

New Bridgespan Group Research Examines Initiatives in Three Cities that Hold Promise for Other Communities

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New Bridgespan Group Research Examines Initiatives in Three Cities that Hold Promise for Other Communities

BOSTON, MA—September 18, 2014—A new paper by The Bridgespan Group, Local Philanthropists Work Together to Transform Public Education, examines philanthropic initiatives aimed at transforming public education in three U.S. cities, showcasing collaborative approaches that the authors believe hold real promise for communities across the country. The paper looks at donor-led efforts underway in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida, and Memphis, Tennessee.
According to Bridgespan Partner and the paper’s co-author Mike Perigo, “Philanthropists across the country have long supported local schools and have been able to make a difference; but for the most part, these investments have been small scale, compared with the challenge of improving educational outcomes and life prospects for students across a whole district. We believe that local philanthropic dollars could do much more to catalyze real change.”

Andrew Belton, co-author and Bridgespan partner concurs, saying, "We are excited by what we are seeing in Charlotte, Jacksonville and Memphis, where our teams have worked with donors who have forged ‘high stakes’ collaborations with ambitious goals, significant financial investment and a clear focus on results.”

Among the new approaches to giving being practiced by donors in these cities, the paper cites:

  • Working hand-in hand with the school district to develop and pursue bold strategies to ensure that every student graduates ready for college and career;
  • Investing together over multiple years in these shared strategies and putting results ahead of organizational or individual recognition; and,
  • Engaging the community to shape and sustain the work.

“While none of these three cities is close to its ultimate goal, each is on the path,” says Perigo. “The structure, scale and energy of these donor partnerships demonstrate what it takes to transform local school systems and student outcomes.”


About The Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group ( is a nonprofit advisor and resource for mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. We collaborate with social sector leaders to help scale impact, build leadership, advance philanthropic effectiveness and accelerate learning. We work on issues related to society’s most important challenges and to break cycles of intergenerational poverty. Our services include strategy consulting, leadership development, philanthropy advising, and developing and sharing practical insights.


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