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Donors' Education Collaborative in The New York Community Trust

A student in the Bronx marches in a rally organized by the New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee to ask for a full-service community school in his neighborhood.

“Working with the collaborative, the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation can help tackle inequality and improve the quality of instruction for all students by examining the issues and supporting strategies that move the entire education system in a positive direction,” -  Nicole Leach, DEC member and education program officer at Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation

“We joined the Donors’ Education Collaborative because of its focus on improving the system for students who are often left behind, such as immigrants, those living in poverty, and those with disabilities or special needs. DEC’s grantmaking addresses problems broadly, allowing us to extend our reach to help many more children than we could working alone.” - Tanya Herbick, DEC member and senior program officer, Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation.

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The Donor’s Education Collaborative (DEC) is dedicated to systemic reform of New York City public schools. Its members pool funds to advance equity, opportunity, and excellence for all students—including those facing the greatest challenges. Its members believe that effective reform is grounded in research and carried out in partnership with parents, students, educators, and others.


  • Catherine and Joseph Aresty Foundation
  • The Atlantic Philanthropies
  • The Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation
  • Booth Ferris Foundation
  • Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
  • Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
  • The Ford Foundation
  • Fordham Street Foundation
  • The New York Community Trust
  • Schott Foundation for Public Education
  • Trinity Wall Street Grants Program
  • Learn more about becoming a member>

A long history and deep expertise in City education policy

In 1995, funders wanted to work together to confront the City’s greatest problems, and decided to focus on public education. They pooled funds, brought in experts, and formed the Donors’ Education Collaborative. Chaired by funders and staffed by a coordinator, DEC makes grants collaboratively.  Many founders are still members.  

DEC’s participants bring knowledge and different perspectives on education. This makes DEC a unique space for learning, debate, educated risk-taking, and the creation of consensus among funders with a variety of interests.   

Grantmaking with system-wide impact

DEC investments have changed the educational landscape:

  • The A+ NYC Coalition worked with diverse communities to develop and advocate for an education policy platform during the 2012 and 2013 mayoral campaign. Many recommendations were adopted by the de Blasio Administration such as expanding pre-kindergarten and afterschool programs, creating more community schools, reforming school discipline and policing, getting agencies to collaborate on children’s issues, and strengthening stronger school-parent-community partnerships.
  • The Dignity in Schools Campaign—NY won revisions to the City’s School Discipline Code, reducing the emphasis on automatic suspension while increasing help for struggling students.  Suspensions decreased by 23 percent.
  • After years of DEC-funded advocacy by the Alliance for Quality Education and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, New York State enacted a number of reforms in its State Education Budget and Reform Act of 2007, including a large increase in operating aid to schools across the state, and a more equitable funding formula for school aid, based on student need. 
  • Networks such as the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice have organized and engaged low-income parents of color, immigrant families, and students in education reform. These groups are now regular participants in policy discussions. The coalition’s campaigns have resulted in:
    • substantial re-investment in middle schools,
    • a renewed commitment to parent engagement by the Department of Education,
    • new programs to prepare students for college.    

DEC’s vision for education reform: equity, excellence, and collaboration 

In late 2013, DEC invited proposals for projects to advocate for system-wide policies to increase equity, excellence, and collaboration among key groups in the City public school system. In 2014, DEC awarded several grants.  Read press release here. Organizations include:

  • Advocates for Children of New York
  • Alliance for Quality Education
  • Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund / New York Appleseed
  • Brooklyn Movement Center
  • Dignity in Schools – New York, led by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
  • Make the Road New York
  • New Settlement Apartments – Parent Action Committee
  • New York City Coalition for Educational Justice
  • New York Civil Liberties Union
  • TASC (The After-School Corporation) with the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, Generation Schools Network, and the National Center on Time and Learning
  • The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs
If you are a funder or a journalist interested in the Donors’ Education Collaborative, please contact:  

Gisela Alvarez, Coordinator

Shawn Morehead, Co-Chair
212-686-0010 x557

Important note:  DEC is currently accepting proposals by invitation only.  We cannot read unsolicited proposals.

Learn more about becoming a member>

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