Formed in 2011, the Kansas City Education Funders Collaborative is a joint funding initiative of the Kauffman Foundation, H&R Block Foundation, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, and The Hall Family Foundation.
Leveraging resources for local education projects of mutual interest, the Collaborative aims to improve and increase the number of quality seats in Kansas City area schools.
Collaborative members share the following beliefs:
- The solution is bigger than one person, program, or organization.
- We, as adults, are accountable for ensuring that all children have the educational opportunities they deserve.
- We have an abiding interest in, openness to, and commitment to learning from what works in other cities – and in our own.
- We are unwilling to wait for whole-system reform to improve the quality of education for low-income students. We can do something now.
- Student and school achievement data must inform decision-making.
Collaborative members are committed to the following guiding principles:
- All children can achieve at high levels. Poverty does not justify low expectations. Children perform to the expectations we set.
- Teaching causes learning. Teacher effectiveness is the most important in-school variable related to student achievement.
- All parents deserve – and have the right to expect – quality school options for their children. All parents want what's best for their children.
- Great teachers come from both traditional and non-traditional pathways. It's what they are able to accomplish in the classroom, not the path through which they arrived there, that matters most.
- The school model – whether charter, district, or private – is irrelevant. What matters most are existing "conditions" within the school – e.g., appropriate degrees of autonomy and accountability, effectiveness of school leadership, and a positive school culture.
- Community plays an essential role in setting high expectations for our schools and for ensuring our schools meet those expectations. Informed and sustained community involvement is essential for the success of our schools.
Collaborative members have advanced the following initiatives:
In 2011, the Collaborative began funding small matching grants to individual teachers through Donors Choose. Through Feb. 1, 2013, the Collaborative had funded 431 projects, serving a total of 28,874 students.
In 2013, the Collaborative launched the 5Essentials opportunity. Twenty-nine Kansas City area district, charter, and private schools serving lower-income students are participating, at no cost, in the 5Essentials evaluation from the University of Chicago. The Collaborative is offering the 5Essentials evaluation to:
- Provide schools a research-based approach to identify strengths and challenges to improve student outcomes.
- Gather data to compare all schools, regardless of their status as charter, district, or private.
- Identify shared strengths and challenges among schools that may benefit from potential shared professional development.
- Inform future grant-making strategy for the Collaborative.