Fund for Public Schools – Nonprofit Partner Spotlight – Feb. 2012

Who is The Fund for Public Schools?

The Fund for Public Schools partners closely with the New York City Department of Education to reform public education, giving the city’s 1.1 million students a better chance at a productive future. Since 2003, The Fund has raised nearly $300 million to support the city’s schools and the Schools Chancellor’s system-wide reform initiatives. We have engaged the greater New York City community – including businesses, foundations, and individuals – to help us along the way.

Examples of initiatives The Fund has supported include:

• Raising over $80 million for the NYC Leadership Academy to train the next generation of school leaders

• Building and upgrading over 70 school performing arts spaces and revitalizing more than 200 school libraries

• Raising close to $7 million to improve the human resources function of the NYC Department of Education

• Piloting innovative practices in teaching and learning through the iZone – from self-paced online coursework to individualized schedules tailored to each student's daily progress – at schools across the city

• Raising over $6 million to open new academically selective schools in underserved neighborhoods


What is your mission?

The Fund for Public Schools is dedicated to improving New York City's public schools by attracting private investment in school reform and encouraging greater involvement by all New Yorkers in the education of our children. The Fund plays a pivotal role in improving public education in New York City by securing funding for critical system-wide education reform initiatives; helping businesses create partnerships that support our city’s schools; and raising awareness about New York City public schools.


What is your organization up to at the moment?

The scope of the initiatives that we support is broad – from training school leaders, to revitalizing public school libraries, to innovating career and technical education programs.

Some of our current fundraising and awareness initiatives include:

• Launching Alumni for Public Schools, the first city-wide alumni organization, which engages NYC's public school alumni in giving back to the city's schools through donations and volunteerism

• Developing  strategies to both identify and address the needs of middle school students who are in danger of falling off track to high school graduation

• Launching a summer learning pilot that joins the best practices of academic preparation and enrichment to help stem summer learning loss among low-income students

• Expanding successful school models that prepare students for growing industry fields, such as software engineering, by providing authentic career-based learning experiences


What makes your organization so unique in the non-profit space?

The Fund secures private investment not to supplement public operational dollars, but rather to introduce new funds to instigate innovative, system-wide change in New York City schools. The Fund’s strategy is to invest in pilot programs that, once tested and demonstrated to be successful, can then be taken to scale in the schools.

Our fundraising focus is driven by the needs and priorities of the Chancellor’s school reform efforts. Setting – and not deviating from – explicit goals and priorities reinforces the mission-driven nature of The Fund. Most of the private dollars raised by The Fund support research and development as well as system-wide capacity-building initiatives. The Fund also oversees some school-based grant programs and scholarships.


How can CUP Members be involved?

CUP Members who attended New York City public schools are encouraged to sign up with The Fund’s Alumni for Public Schools initiative at to learn about ways to get involved and give back to the city’s schools.

The Fund is also seeking to expand its Board of Directors to include new talent and fresh perspective. The Fund’s Board is comprised of prominent leaders from the New York City business and cultural communities. It is responsible for oversight of the organization, and members serve as expert advisors in areas helpful to the successful operation of The Fund (e.g., finance, fundraising, public relations, and law).

We are interested in leaders with expertise in the fields of financial services, fundraising, and legal services to help us continue to build strong partnerships with the business and philanthropic communities to support the city’s public schools.