Philos Issue 7

New Data: Education Philanthropy is Retreating from Racial Equity & Justice in the Moment it’s Needed Most

The Schott Foundation for Public Education has worked with Candid, a center for nonprofit resources and tools, over the past four years to critically examine K-12 education philanthropy’s grantmaking priorities. Today we’re releasing brand new data from that partnership.

Our project, Justice Is The Foundation, assesses the collective philanthropic impact of giving in the education sector through a lens of racial equity and racial justice. We believe that philanthropy has an important and irreplaceable role to play in building a more just and equitable society: public schools touch 90% of students in the U.S., are often de facto centers of community and neighborhood cohesion, and have been a focal point of racial justice movements since Reconstruction.

The data tells the story of what philanthropy prioritizes: we looked beyond the press release, to the checkbook.


Racial equity work is drastically underfunded by K-12 philanthropy, especially for a U.S. school population that is now majority students of color. Investment in racial justice work—the efforts to solve the systemic inequities that racial equity work ameliorates—remains vanishingly small, especially compared to the scope of the challenge.

The tireless efforts of BIPOC youth- and parent-led advocacy organizations are driving progress toward education justice and a multi-racial democracy in the United States. But despite consistently demonstrating remarkable achievements with limited resources, these organizations face persistent challenges due to inadequate funding from philanthropy.

As you will see in the action brief, philanthropy still has a long way to go to meet student needs and the demands of this urgent moment. Funders should see this gap and not be discouraged, but emboldened: the opportunities to collaborate and support transformative work are myriad, scalable, and ready to effectively use new resources immediately.

The best time to invest in racial justice was yesterday. The second-best time is today. Justice Is The Foundation provides action steps that will show you how.

Download the report to see more data, takeaways, and action steps: