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Six Lessons from a Decade of Education Philanthropy

 

 

Through the education philanthropy initiatives I've designed and led in the last decade, I've had the privilege of collaborating with amazing education leaders and innovators from around the world. Looking back at over 1500 projects in 41 countries (or so - I've lost count by now!), a few key lessons stand out. I hope they are helpful to you as well:

 

ONE) Strategic (smart) philanthropy can accomplish things that private sector commercial interests, start ups, and governments, typically do not.

 

TWO) It’s never as simple as “just funding” or “here’s some technology”; impact philanthropy, like education itself, is a human endeavor – and the people part is always the hardest (and most important) part of the outcome equation.

 

THREE) When it comes to tackling complex, wicked challenges in education, collaboration (especially across timezones and cultures) is hard won - and almost always worth the effort.

 

FOUR) Patience is paramount - when it comes to education research and innovation, the REALLY exciting results start showing up in 2 to 3 years; securing a lasting positive change takes much longer.

 

FIVE) It's tough to measure what matters when it comes to learning - but it doesn't mean we should stop trying.

 

SIX) When it comes to measuring impact, stories connect you to the human element - the reason you're doing this in the first place;  quantitative data gives you confidence to keep going.

 

 

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PS: For those of you engaged in education philanthropy, or recipients of such, I welcome your comments and personal insights as well...

 

 

(reposted from LinkedIN)

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About the Author
  • Jim Vanides is responsible for the vision, strategy, design, and implementation of education technology innovation initiatives. His focus is the effective use of technology to create powerful learning experiences that help students around the world succeed. He has been instrumental in launching over 1200 primary, secondary, and higher education projects in 41 countries, including the HP Catalyst Initiative - a 15-country network of 60+ education organizations exploring innovations in STEM(+) learning and teaching. In addition to his work at HP, Jim teaches an online course for Montana State University on the Science of Sound, a masters-level, conceptual physics course for teachers in grades 5 through 8. Jim’s past work at HP has included engineering design, engineering management, and program management in R&D, Manufacturing, and Business Development. He holds a BS in Engineering and a MA in Education, both from Stanford University.
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