The Irene S. Scully Family Foundation’s belief in the power of education to create a more just future lays the groundwork for our grantmaking. If we envision a world that is fairer, more inclusive, and more peaceful, then we must focus our resources on ensuring that students, particularly those most impacted by institutional inequities, receive an education that will truly prepare them for work and life in the 21st century. We also recognize that the creation of a system that is equitable and works for all students is a large and complex task that requires partnership, humility, and collaboration. As such, the Foundation is deeply grateful for the incredible thought partnership of stakeholders in the local school communities where we have worked during the last decade. We are inspired by the students, parents, teachers, school administrators, district staff, community members, and other committed education leaders whose wisdom and expertise have helped shaped the development of the Foundation’s five priority areas outlined below. While we recognize that there are many other strategies and program areas that also play an important role in improving public education, the Foundation’s investments typically align with one or more of the following, interrelated areas of focus:
Quality Public Schools
The Foundation provides grants directly to public schools (both district-run and charter) in an effort to build those schools’ capacity to provide a high quality education to students. Grants may be used for operating support or to fund a specific initiative or program. In particular, we are committed to investing in schools that are achieving strong academic results for low-income students of color. The Foundation is also interested in supporting high-potential schools that, through deep investments in evidence-based and culturally relevant practices, are demonstrating steady movement toward improved academic outcomes.
Healthy School Systems
The Foundation supports efforts that build equity, effectiveness, and transparency in districts and school networks. Through these investments, our goal is to ensure that all schools are connected to and supported by a system that creates the conditions for them to thrive. The Foundation seeks opportunities to invest in innovative ideas and projects that develop both systems and system leaders. Past grants have included funding to support improved data systems, program evaluation, and technical assistance.
Engaged School Communities
We strongly believe that those most impacted by local education policies must have meaningful opportunities to participate in the dialogue and decision-making that creates or changes those policies. As such, the Foundation supports efforts that provide pathways for various community stakeholders to actively engage in their school communities. Grants include support for local advocacy efforts, organizing, family leadership development, and student leadership development.
Effective Teaching and Leadership
Research demonstrates that effective leadership and high quality instruction are essential if schools are to truly meet the needs of all students. The Foundation invests in opportunities that develop both teachers and school leaders, with a particular focus on creating meaningful pathways for educators to grow to their full capacity. Our goal is to support the recruitment, development, and retention of educators who will create equitable learning environments for Oakland and West Contra Costa County students.
In response to overwhelming evidence that low-income students are disproportionately impacted by a lack of access to high quality summer opportunities, the Foundation partners with summer learning providers who have a proven track record of reducing summer learning loss. We support innovative and high-impact programs that not only boost academic achievement, but those that also engage families, offer project-based learning opportunities, develop social-emotional skills, and promote peer mentorship and student leadership. The Foundation is particularly interested in those programs that work closely with local schools in order to promote continuity year-round.