The Foundations Of American Education

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The Foundations of American Education

The Foundations of American Education


Since America's earliest years, charitable institutions have served a diverse set of philanthropic purposes in the United States. While the majority of these institutions were historically tied to religious organizations, today there are many different types of private philanthropic bodies that serve a multitude of needs across many issue areas. While philanthropic participation in numerous matters has grown in all categories, the increasing existence of educational philanthropy in America provides perhaps one of the clearest illustrations of the ways in which private philanthropists can support and shape U.S. institutions. This entry begins with a brief history of general philanthropy, then looks at education-oriented philanthropy, its contributions, and some critiques.

Even the earliest American philanthropic institutions had connections to education, since some of the country's first schools were created by the contributions of private donors and local religious organizations. Throughout U.S. history, private charitable contributions from individuals and organizations have supported schools. Today, educational philanthropic contributions constitute less than 1 percent of the total K-12 spending. However, there are currently over 600,000 philanthropic foundations in the United States with approximately 25 percent that provide financial assistance to schools. To understand the multiple roles that philanthropists continue to play in creating, shaping, and supporting American public schools, it's important to understand the multifarious nature of their involvement.

While early educational philanthropy was primarily generated by personal contributions of time and service, the scope and influence of educational philanthropy has grown significantly. Today, there are nearly as many types of organizations as there are organizations themselves. These groups are categorized in a number of different ways. They may be think tanks, advocacy organizations, networks, researchers, data gatherers, grant makers, associations, community outreach organizations, foundations, and/or institutions. They range from small, local bodies that primarily ...
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