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Improve education in the U.S.

Imagine if...

Every child had access to evidence-based extended learning time

Meet Alexa Cortes Culwell

Alexa Cortes Culwell is a leader in philanthropy focused on U.S. education. Alexa has identified several best-in-class organizations pursuing effective strategies to improve education in the United States.

Why this cause needs your support

In the U.S., a student’s zip code and the color of their skin often determines if they will complete high school and be prepared for college entrance and completion, which in turn, is a key determinant for later life success as an adult. To make matters worse, the United States is facing its worse teacher shortage since the 1990s, and low-income...

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The need is now


Students in Los Angeles’ poorest schools were nearly three times as likely to have teachers from the bottom quarter of effectiveness than students in the district’s most affluent schools.

The goal of this Fund is to create pathways for all children to thrive as productive and civically literate adults

To accomplish this goal, this Fund is supporting the following strategies

Support for Extended Learning Time and Enrichment

Research shows that a lack of learning opportunities outside of school – and in particular, a lack of summer learning opportunities – causes up to 2/3 of the academic achievement gap between children from low-income communities and their higher-income peers. When students participate in evidenced-based programs that provide increased quality learning opportunities, they do better in school.

Supporting some of the best organizations

I have a sister and friends who are teachers and so I have seen first hand the impact a high quality principal has on their performance and motivation, not unlike the impact of any boss on an employee. This personal observation, combined with the research, has led me to believe this is a critical issue for the success of schools and their students. Since its founding in 2001, New Leaders has prepared nearly 3,200 education leaders who reach nearly 500,000 students in more than 30 cities nationwide. Their alumni overwhelmingly work with America’s highest-need students: 78 percent of students served are low-income; 87 percent are children of color. The vast majority of their Emerging Leaders delivered gains in achievement across classrooms they supervise.

New Teacher Center is a research-based and results oriented nonprofit that focused on improving schools and districts that educate some of our nation’s lowest income students. A recent research study demonstrated that New Teacher Center’s teacher induction model increases student learning by up to five months in reading and math. They also increase the performance and tenure of teachers. NTC also has a strong financial model, as school districts pay a substantial portion of the costs of delivering the program, with private philanthropy filling in the gap.

BELL is the largest evidence-based summer learning provider in the US. They are focused on providing critical after school and summertime support to our nation’s most vulnerable students, leading to gains in their math and reading skills, which are fundamental to ongoing school performance. They do this through a research-proven model that also improves the performance of teachers and lengthens their tenure. The program operates nationally, through a network of district and YMCA partners.

Meet your Fund manager: an expert in this cause area

Alexa is the co-founder of Open Impact, a strategic advisory firm partnering with philanthropic leaders to envision, design and accelerate their social impact. She is the co-author of the The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy (2016).

For nearly two decades, Alexa built and managed foundations, philanthropic initiatives and...

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