Educating English Language Learners: Grantmaking Strategies For Closing America's Other Achievement Gap

by Jen Schenkel; Jessica Chao; Laurie Olsen

Apr 5, 2013
This study draws upon two sources of data: an online survey and telephone interviews. In spring 2012, GFE selected 138 grantmaking organizations to participate in an online survey. The sample was composed primarily of GFE members who had indicated in GFE's 2010 and 2011 benchmarking surveys that they made grants to English learners or immigrants, but it was supplemented with funders identified as significant investors in English learners by Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.

Fifty-seven grantmakers completed responses to the survey, representing diverse grantmaking entities including family foundations, private foundations, community foundations and corporate funders. Researchers supplemented the survey by conducting in-depth phone interviews with 24 survey respondents selected to represent a range of foundation sizes, organization types, geographic regions and ELL funding priorities. The study also convened an Advisory Committee comprising GFE members who are experienced funders of English learners. The advisory committee offered advice on research design, interpretation of research findings, and supplemental resources (listed in report appendix).
  • The level of investment in English learners is relatively small.
  • Most funders support English Language Learners through their education portfolios.
  • English Language Learners grantmaking is primarily local.
  • Most English Language Learners grantmakers have a long history of ELL investments.
  • The majority of grants considered "English Language Learners grants" are not exclusively targeting English learners or their needs.
  • Many English Language Learners grants also target other demographic characteristics.
  • English Language Learners funders invest across the education continuum.
  • English Language Learners grantmaking is concentrated in several key fields of interest, including grade-level reading.
  • English Language Learners grantmaking focuses primarily on funding direct services and programs.
  • Many English Language Learners grantmakers are funding collaboratively.
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