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Working Paper Series

The Politics of Venture Philanthropy in Charter School Policy and Advocacy


  • Christopher Lubienski,
  • Janelle Scott, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper (January 2009)


Philanthropists have long funded a wide range of educational research, practice, and policy initiatives, primarily through namesake foundations. Some observers have criticized these efforts as doing little to change the status quo in education and have called for more aggressive action on the part of this sector. Out of this critique has emerged a new philanthropic form, often termed venture philanthropy. Perhaps nowhere is venture philanthropy more prevalent than in the charter school and policy and advocacy terrain. Drawing from document analysis and a review of historical literature, this article provides a sociopolitical, descriptive discussion of this “new” form of philanthropy in supporting the charter school reform network. It also examines the funding strategies of venture philanthropies and the areas of policy intersection in program initiatives. The article concludes with a discussion of some political and philosophical tensions that venture philanthropy raises and also provides suggestions for further research.

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Last updated on 09/01/2015