Despite recent challenges presented by the slow pace of economic recovery and increased demands, some local education organizations have not only survived, but thrived. Since 2006, Reading Partners has grown from serving 6 schools in Silicon Valley to 109 schools across 7 states, expanding its total operating budget from $500,000 to over $13 million. And Raising A Reader has grown from a local program in San Mateo County Library to a National Program serving nearly 120,000 children annually at 2,500 locations across the nation. In 2012 Raising A Reader served its millionth child.
What are the circumstances that set the stage so an organization can aim for expansion? How does a start-up or smaller organization go from receiving a few small grants to attracting the support of large, national funders? What do donors look for to signal that an organization is ready to scale? And how can an education organization demonstrate impact and effectiveness when learning is so challenging to measure? In June, the Foundation Center-San Francisco hosted a panel of grantmakers and their grant partners to answer these questions. The panel was part of the Foundation Center-San Francisco’s Funding for Education month programs.