Business and Foundation Leaders are involved in community schools in a variety of ways. They provide financial support and often tend to have high levels of involvement in the governance and organization of a community school or community school initiative. Many leaders endorse community school policy and build relationships that strengthen the community school efforts. The proper level of involvement for a funder depends on the community context and should be decided at the local level together with community school leaders.
There are five general types of community school funders:
1. General Foundations
2. Corporate Foundations
3. Community Foundations
4. Local Foundations
5. United Ways
Foundations at the national and local levels play an important role in supporting community schools. Typically foundations that fund community schools have an interest in funding education, youth development, and community development projects. They view community schools as a key strategy for accomplishing their missions to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families. Foundation leaders are committed to the community school strategy and are usually deeply involved, as demonstrated by their participation in meetings, building connections to other funders and leaders, and advocacy.
Many corporations have foundations that support the community and education. Corporations have a responsibility to the communities in which they operate and serve. Their employees live in these communities as do many of their clients. Leaders from corporate foundations provide financial support but also often provide mentors, in-kind resources, and other resources, especially at the local level.
Community foundations tend to focus their giving at the local or regional levels. They solicit donations and use their general funds to support a set of strategies. Community foundations typically support local community schools and their leaders are typically very involved with the development of and advocacy for the initiative.
Oftentimes community foundation leaders fund a pilot community school initiative along with leaders from across various sectors and encourage policymakers to include the community school strategy in policy and funding mechanisms that allow the initiative to grow.
Read how the Lincoln Community Foundation supports community schools in this Council on Foundations publication.
Local Private Foundations
Local private foundations are very similar to community foundations in that they focus on issues within a specific geographical area. However, local foundations don’t solicit donations as they are typically supported by an endowment.
Large CBOs such as the United Way often play a major role in the development and implementation of a community school initiative. They provide essential financial, organizational, and technical capacity and often take the lead role in governing the initiative. Leaders from these CBOs organize partnerships with other non-profits and leverage funding streams from grants, philanthropy, and partner organizations.