July 30, 2012

In Education Philanthropy, a Look at Who Finances What

A new online database financed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation aims to shed light on the nonprofits and donors working to improve America's education system.

The database, which is still in beta form, enables users to identify which organizations are supporting areas like technology, school choice, teacher quality, and charter schools. It also helps users identify which policies and research are shaping those fields and others.

New Leaders for New Schools, for example, is listed among the nonprofits behind efforts to improve the quality of superintendents and principals. The Bill & Melinda Gates, Open Society, and Annie E. Casey foundations are among the largest funds supporting work in that field.

Caprice Young, vice president for education at the Arnold foundation, says she hopes the database can serve as a tool nonprofits use to identify potential donors.

For now, the database relies on information foundations provide in their Form 990 informational tax returns, which is quite limited. Eventually, Ms. Young says she hopes to gather other sources of information and use that to help people assess the effectiveness of various policies and strategies.