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Closing the Education Achievement Gap

Grants & LoansGrantsStrategic Initiatives › Closing the Education Achievement Gap

Working with MCF

We encourage potential applicants--both current and prospective grantees--to read about MCF's overall approach to grantmaking, our grantee relations commitments, and updates on working with MCF.

Overview

The goal of this Strategic Initiative is to close the achievement gap between high-achieving students and those who are falling behind.

Student achievement for low-income students and students of color in Marin falls far below the achievement of more advantaged students in the County. The gap in achievement begins at an early age and increases over time. Fewer than one in five of Marin's African American or Latino high school graduates complete the coursework required to be ready for college or other post-secondary education options. Four public school districts in Marin — San Rafael City Schools, Novato Unified, Sausalito/Marin City, and Shoreline Unified — collectively account for 85% of low-income students and 82% of students of color. While each of these districts is applying selected strategies to address the achievement gap, the general lack of resources combined with the severity of State budget cuts are significant barriers to providing an equitable education to students in need.
The Marin Community Foundation believes that taking action to address the achievement gap across Marin and particularly in the four target districts will help low-income students, and students of color to:

  • Enter kindergarten developmentally and socially ready to learn
  • Gain proficiency in core subjects — English/Language Arts and Mathematics in the early elementary grades
  • Attend high-quality schools with excellent principals and teachers
  • Graduate from high school prepared to apply to, enroll in, and complete college or other post-secondary education options

Grants, Results, and More

Click here to learn about grants made under this goal area, along with results, an impact story, and background about this issue.

To read an evaluation of the second year of this Strategic Initiative, click on the title of the report to the right.

 

Strategy 1: Increase the number of low-income children and children of color who are prepared for academic success in school through an investment in early learning experiences, parent involvement, and extended time spent learning

There is a growing body of evidence that makes the case for an aligned, coordinated pre-kindergarten through third grade (PreK-3) system for children's learning and development. Children participating in PreK-3 leave each grade with the appropriate social, emotional, and academic skills they need to succeed in the next grade.

Parents are a child's first teachers. They can encourage student performance and lay the foundations for future success. Low-income parents or newcomer parents may require additional resources or knowledge to support their child's education. Time is of the essence for children who start with weaker learning foundations, especially for children learning English. Early research from schools and districts that incorporate more academic learning opportunities into afterschool time finds educational benefits for students.

A logic model for this strategy has been developed that further explains the approaches, activities, and desired impact of this goal area. Download the PDF to view it.


To measure the effectiveness of this strategy, MCF commissioned a study about the readiness of students to enter kindergarten in order to inform ongoing efforts to ensure smooth transitions from preschool to kindergarten.


To read the executive summary of the second year of this approach click on the report title to the right.


To read the full report on the second year of this approach click on the report title to the right.

Process for Strategy 1:

The Foundation has issued design grants to selected community partners. This strategy will not use an open competitive process.

 

Strategy 2: Increase the number of low-income students and students of color who access post-secondary education ready to succeed through an investment in student preparation, college access, and coordination of providers

The Foundation’s goal under this strategy is to increase college readiness for low-income students and students of color from the targeted districts: San Rafael City Schools, Novato Unified, Sausalito Marin City, and Shoreline Unified. We aim to do this through project grants to organizations providing academic and personal support to middle and high school students, as well as to those that provide college navigation and scholarship support. We recognize that no one organization, whether because of limited capacity/scope or because of limited geographic reach, can provide all the required services and support for the Foundation’s target student population and districts. And we know that there is a gap in service provision and support for a significant number of these students. For this reason, the Foundation’s methodology is to develop a grants portfolio that includes effective stand-alone programs, collaborative and innovative partnerships, and networking and referral activities aimed at filling in that gap.

A logic model for this strategy has been developed that further explains the approaches, activities, and desired impact of this goal area. Download the PDF to view it.


Process for Strategy 2:

The Foundation has invited proposals from selected organizations. This strategy will not use an open competitive process.

 

Strategy 3: Improve educational outcomes of low-income students and students of color through an investment in the quality of low-performing public schools

Low-income students and students of color generally attend lower performing schools. There are several proven, cost-effective models that find transformation of such schools to ones that are either very high achieving or rapidly improving. Strong principal leadership, well supported teachers, involved parents, and a school culture of high expectations that all students will achieve are elements found in quality schools. These elements lead to systems for teacher collaboration, formative assessments, data analysis, and targeted interventions focused on student success.

Process for Strategy 3:
The Foundation has invited proposals from selected school districts. This strategy will not use an open competitive process.

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Your Contact for Strategies 1 and 3 of Closing the Education Achievement Gap

Program Director, Education

Don Jen

Program Director, Education

415.464.2525

Your Contact for Strategy 2 of Closing the Education Achievement Gap

Program Director, Education and Immigration

Marcia Quiñones

Program Director, Education and Immigration

415.464.2537

"The Pasha Family partners with MCF to focus together on giving back. The staff at MCF does a great job providing perspective and awareness to assure we make informed decisions in our giving. Particularly in difficult times when need is greater than ever, we are grateful that we are able to contribute."

George and Elyse Pasha
Donors at MCF since 2000