Oct 26 2016

EdFunders’ 20th Annual Conference – 2016

Grantmakers for Education

Denver, CO

October 26 - 28, 2016

Equity in Education: Conversations We're Not Having

What does success look like? For us, it means hosting provocative conversations for over 600 education grantmakers and experts that challenged assumptions, shifted perspectives, and strengthened relationships. By every measure, we are celebrating a successful conference and we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you! Together we have taken the next step toward equity in education.

No matter where education philanthropists are working, or what they are working on, in different ways we all aspire toward a future where outcomes for all learners improve. ALL learners. We talk about equity and for many it is considered so critical it is articulated in our organizations’ mission statements. Now is the time to look at what actions we are taking and how our actions really affect equity as we face a changing philanthropic and social landscape.

As education funders invest resources in confronting the inequities in our education system that disproportionately impact underserved communities and marginalized student populations, we are surrounded by the broader political, social and economic tensions currently at play. If we do not name them they hide in the shadows. Going forward, leaders in the field must be brave enough to shine light on these issues and ask ourselves: How does our work relate to the ongoing national conversations on race and class?

President Truman warned in a 1947 speech that education could become “a means not of eliminating race and class distinctions, but of deepening and solidifying them.” Has education in fact become what he feared? What role have we as education funders played in deepening the distinctions or making progress toward eliminating them through education? The 2016 Grantmakers for Education Conference—Equity in Education: Conversations We’re Not Having—will be a forum for “undiscussable” topics, an opportunity to bring them out of the shadows.  

This year’s conference will be held in the Mountain West United States—Denver, Colorado—a region that has been lauded nationally for its progressive K-12 reform initiatives. Despite many successful programs, disparities in overall achievement exist for students of color and students in poverty. Colorado and its surrounding states often struggle in addressing urban and rural challenges, symptomatic of issues seen nationwide: geographic isolation, poverty, a lack of public will to fund education, racial disparities and more.

At our conference in 2015, we started this conversation by calling for tough talk. Now it’s time to take it further and address these challenges head on. This is our chance to examine the leadership role that education philanthropy can take in communities across the country to lead conversations and identify concrete actions that move us toward an inclusive, equitable future for all.


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