PSP receives $5 million challenge grant from Walton Family Foundation

Grant to the Great Schools Fund is largest national foundation gift to the PSP to date; more than $12 million committed by national foundations in past 12 months.

The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) today announced it will receive a $5 million challenge grant from the Walton Family Foundation to support the Great Schools Fund. This grant will support the creation and expansion of high-quality schools for Philadelphia students, especially in low-income communities.

PSP’s Great Schools Fund pools philanthropic dollars from a diverse group of funders to strategically invest in the incubation, startup, expansion and transformation of high-quality schools across Philadelphia. The Fund invests in K-12 schools of all types with the capacity to deliver outstanding educational outcomes for children in the city, including traditional district, charter and private schools. To date, PSP has invested $29 million to give nearly 14,000 additional students a year access to high-quality district, charter, private, and turnaround schools.

“I want to thank the Walton Family Foundation for this generous contribution to the Great Schools Fund and the children of Philadelphia. This grant is an investment in the future success of thousands of students,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Our Administration is committed to providing a high-quality education in a safe environment to every Philadelphia student. The Philadelphia School Partnership and its work to expand the number of high performing seats and increase access to those seats is vital in helping us to reach the City’s education goals.”

The $5 million, three-year grant is the largest commitment from a national foundation to PSP to date. In June 2013, PSP announced a $4.2 million investment in the Great Schools Fund from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and last December the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested $2.5 million in PSP to support the Philadelphia Great Schools Compact. Since PSP’s inception in October 2010, more than 40 businesses, individuals and foundations have committed $65 million toward the fundraising goal of $100 million for the Great Schools Fund.

“All Philadelphia parents need and deserve the power to choose great schools for their children,” said Ed Kirby, deputy director of the foundation’s K-12 education reform efforts. “Philadelphia School Partnership is helping to dramatically expand the number of high quality K-12 options of all types for Philadelphia’s families – district, public charter and private schools with the support of publicly-funded scholarships.”

One of the largest private supporters of education reform initiatives, The Walton Family Foundation invests in organizations and programs that empower parents, particularly in low-income communities, to choose among quality educational options for their children. Previously, the foundation invested $400,000 to launch GreatPhillySchools, an online resource developed by PSP to provide parents with information necessary to finding and choosing high-quality schools.

“For too long, many national education philanthropies avoided making significant investments in Philadelphia,” said Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP. “But now, thanks to a shared vision among the Mayor, the SRC, and charter and Catholic school leaders, and to dedicated school leaders and teachers who are transforming schools all over this city, local and national funders are seeing opportunity in Philadelphia. That’s never been more important than during our current financial and educational crisis. We are grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for its confidence in Philadelphia’s educational leadership.”

The Walton Family Foundation investment is a three year grant. PSP must raise matching funds to receive the full amount of the grant.

About the Great Schools Fund

The Fund invests in K-12 schools of any type with the capacity to deliver outstanding educational outcomes for children in the city, including traditional district, charter, and private schools. The goal of the Fund is create 35,000 new seats in high-quality schools by 2016-17 by turning around low-performing schools, expanding high performing schools, or creating new high-quality schools. PSP’s investment team conducts a rigorous screening process for grant applicants to evaluate their capacity for delivering strong educational outcomes; its recommendations are vetted by an investment committee before being presented to the PSP Board of Directors for approval.

About the Philadelphia School Partnership

PSP is a nonprofit organization founded in October 2010 that invests in the creation and expansion of great schools in Philadelphia. PSP is raising a $100 million “Great Schools Fund” in support of education reform, and investing those funds as growth capital to support the transformation, expansion and startup of high-performing schools in the public and private sectors. It measures success by the number of students in Philadelphia who move out of failing schools to better-quality school options, and it judges school quality on the basis of student academic outcomes. PSP works closely with Mayor Michael Nutter, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, the School Reform Commission, charter school leadership, and the Archdiocese to achieve the goals of the Philadelphia Great School Compact. The Compact is a collective commitment to transform or replace the worst-performing schools in the city, representing nearly 50,000 students, by 2016-17.

About the Walton Family Foundation

Driven by the urgent need to improve K-12 education in the United States, the Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $1 billion to date in initiatives that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education. Empowering parents to choose quality schools, regardless of type – traditional public, private or public charter school – will help spur the bold transformation of our national K-12 system of public education. Our nation’s children will only reach their potential in today’s global economy by having access to a high-quality, publicly funded education. Visit the foundation at: