Our Approach


Improving life outcomes for young people through education.


Effective education systems in California and Washington that provide opportunities for all students to learn, achieve, and thrive. Primarily working through public education systems, we promote strategies that nurture students to be self-reliant, succeed in education and careers, and engage meaningfully in their communities.


  • Be Accountable – Acknowledge and take responsibility, keep agreements, communicate clearly, and wisely steward Foundation resources.
  • Be Bold – Seize opportunities, be proactive and test new ideas, and take informed risk.
  • Be Respectful – Listen, treat everyone with courtesy and dignity, value wisdom and experience of others, and acknowledge and value differences.
  • Pursue Excellence – Challenge mediocrity, hold ourselves to high standards, engage with partners to create breakthrough solutions, and commit to continuous improvement.
  • Act with Integrity – Honor and fulfill commitments, and be worthy of trust by being transparent and consistent.
  • Persevere – Commit to goals, long-term vision and strategy, adapt and course correct when needed, and don’t quit.
  • Make an Impact – Be passionate and determined about our mission, identify and achieve measurable outcomes, create positive change, and act with conviction and a sense of urgency.


To realize our vision, the Foundation believes that our public education system should move from a focus on narrowly defined academic measures to one that promotes the development and success of all children, especially young people furthest from opportunity.

For us and our partners that means classrooms where young people are seen and heard, and cared for. Schools where their natural curiosity is encouraged, where they are challenged academically, where their families are welcome and part of the solution. It means schools where competent, caring educators have time to learn from each other, put students in the driver’s seat, have deep knowledge of their subject area, and embody a deep commitment to every student’s success. It means schools that prepare young people to work well together, respect differences, take risks, persevere when they face challenges, and know when and how to ask for help from peers and adults in their lives. It means a rich curriculum that connects students to the world around them, to their civic duty, and their role as they prepare to enter the adult world.



With decades of experience in education, youth development, and supporting foster youth, the Foundation will continue to build knowledge, strengthen relationships with practitioners, leaders, and partners, and shift narratives about public education.

We recognize that systemic change will not happen overnight or in isolation. The Foundation often starts by investing in early champions who are piloting an innovative practice in the field and then helps accelerate the momentum by investing in infrastructure such as data systems. Then, we support networks of practitioners to build collective capacity and also invest in actionable research to codify these practices. Finally, we support intentional dissemination of this new knowledge to inform local practitioners and policy makers to influence local and statewide policy. Some of these steps may happen concurrently or we may start at a different starting point; however, we do pay attention to how the grants are scaffolded and sequenced.



PORTFOLIOS – The Foundation awards grants in four areas that coordinate and connect efforts at the policy level, strengthen and support educators, and sustain learning environments that are rigorous, relevant, and responsive to student interests and needsThese portfolios were selected based on timely and actionable opportunities, while also building on the Foundation’s rich history, its ability to leverage resources, and its unique position to create impact.

  • School Finance and Accountability: To solidify the successful implementation and viability of two major California policy structures, the Local Control Funding Formula and the new accountability system, for their promise to set the conditions that will narrow opportunity and achievement gaps and support whole child education and development.
  • Educator Leadership: To increase the number of high quality principals and leaders that promote whole child education.
  • Adolescent Learning: To increase the number and effectiveness of high schools that prepare students for college, career, and civic life.
  • Creativity and Arts Education: To increase student access to arts education, and integrate arts into the core curriculum.

The Foundation is committed to helping increase the effectiveness of our grantee partners through targeted Foster Youth investments and Communications and Capacity Building funds.

FOSTER YOUTH EDUCATION – The Foundation has a long history in child welfare grantmaking, which has resulted in policy and practice reforms, and improved outcomes for children and youth in foster care. The Foundation continues to fund organizations that provide educational support and services to foster youth in the K-12 education systems to ensure that educational experiences and outcomes for foster youth remain a priority for policy makers.

GRANTEE SUPPORT – We work very closely with our partners and, as a result, are acutely aware of the challenges they face. As the Foundation undertakes longer-term strategies with its four portfolio areas, we look for ways to help strengthen leaders and their organizations, amplify the story of their work, and ensure that key issues are understood by policy makers and key stakeholders.

In the last two years, the Foundation has established two funds to offer additional support to our grantees: a Communications Fund and a Capacity Building Fund. The Communications Fund is focused on supporting innovative communications products and tactics – such as storytelling and strategic use of social media – and helping our partners reach target audiences with their research and publications. The Capacity Building Fund focuses on six critical areas of support for partners: strategic planning, leadership development, governance, fund development, operations, and communications capacity.

WASHINGTON STATE – Our investments in Washington State leverage the efforts of other foundations with complementary strategies, support interstate learning to promote innovative approaches, and fund a core group of organizations that share our goals and have an excellent reputation and track record.