The Politics of Advocacy Groups and Venture Philanthropy in School Choice Policy
Janelle T. Scott

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



New York University

Primary Discipline

Political Science
Historically, the relationship between philanthropy and advocacy in the education of poor children of color has been complicated. Yet, perhaps at no other moment in educational history have these institutional actors been able to impact directly upon the daily lives of teachers, students, and administrators with minimal state involvement or public oversight. Funding from venture philanthropies has enabled school choice advocacy, policies, and educational management companies to rapidly expand in the last several years, especially in large, urban school districts. Research must consider the political and philosophical implications of venture philanthropy’s potentially great impact on public education. This qualitative, sociopolitical study of venture philanthropy, advocacy groups, and school choice policy investigates four central questions: 1) What is the institutional landscape — including number, size, annual spending, program areas — of philanthropies that fund school choice policies, advocacy organizations, school choice research, choice schools, and educational management organizations? 2) How do recipients of funding experience their interaction with venture philanthropies? 3) What pedagogical, political, and economic strategies do venture philanthropists value- especially for poor children and children of color? And, 4) What systemic changes result from venture philanthropy funding? Preliminary findings indicate that in the area of school choice reform, much policymaking is taking place outside of formal governmental arenas.
About Janelle T. Scott

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