Foundations and OGF Play Role in RTTT Win

September 1, 2010 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

Now that Ohio’s second round application for Race to the Top funding has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education it’s not only time to celebrate but to consider what was different this time.

There are a number of factors outside the state’s control that may well have been at play. However, one element of the process employed this time was markedly different than what was followed earlier this year – the active engagement of “outside” groups. When Ohio submitted its first application, state leaders did not deliberately seek input from external stakeholders as they prepared the grant proposal. Understandably, ODE and other state leaders relied primarily on their own expertise, together with assistance from a few specially selected consultants/advisors, to craft what they hoped would be a winning proposal.

Upon learning that they did not receive funding in the first round, the state decided to open up the proposal development process to input from a wide variety of interested individuals and groups.  OGF and KidsOhio were asked to help coordinate this public engagement process, and over the course of several weeks helped facilitate small and large group meetings where comments from federal reviewers were shared, new ideas were tested and suggestions were received and often included.

In addition, OGF and KidsOhio helped broker conversations across the political divide, helping ensure that priorities of other elected officials and staff were discussed. Then, in partnership with The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and KnowledgeWorks Foundation, arrangements were made by OGF for the state to access the services of a nationally recognized consultant for proposal review and development and the preparation of the presentation team.

This is not to suggest that this particular “public-private-philanthropic partnership” was largely responsible for the outcome of the state’s second-round RTTT grant proposal, or even that additional external input greatly improved the application. (It is however, worth noting that both Governor Strickland and State Superintendent of Instruction Delisle singled out OGF and KidsOhio for their assistance in the process.)

More to the point is a lesson about the role foundations can play in helping stakeholder groups seek and find consensus around issues of common concern.  Congratulations Ohio on winning the race! And thanks to the many partners who participated in the successful process this time around!

George E. Espy


Entry filed under: Commentaries, Ohio Issues, Public/Private Partnerships.

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