Philanthropic Support of Education Technology and Evidence of Impact

As philanthropies have developed what Rick Hess describes as a “muscle” approach to supporting education, there has also been a stronger push for funders to require and support evidence of the impact of the interventions they support. We know that nonprofits want to be able to understand their influence and are building capacity to increase their abilities to measure impact. We also know that those nonprofits need more help than they are currently getting from foundation funders in order to measure performances. What we don’t have a good handle on is which philanthropies are funding education technology interventions and the nature of the information that they are collecting on the impact of those interventions in the classroom.

Group H is currently examining the question of what evidence are philanthropies gathering about the impact of education technology interventions. First, we are identifying which philanthropies have provided support for the explicit use of education technology in the education, funding the use of platforms, services or apps in the classroom. Secondly, we are interviewing foundation staff to ascertain how they characterize the evidence of the impact of that technology, the levels of evidence from perspectives of utility and feasibility of technology implementation, and the robustness of evidence to support causal claim of the impact of technology. We welcome comment, references to others who are examining these issue with philanthropy, and interest in working with use. Please contact Edith Gummer,  



1 Brock, A., Buteau, E. & Herring, A. 2012. Room for Improvement: Foundations support of nonprofit performance assessment. Center for Effective Philanthropy.