President Obama Hopes to Secure $118 Million for Education

Aug 08, 2011

From reducing drop-out rates to developing learning technology, big business pledges are an important factor in funding educational initiatives. On July 18, 2011, President Obama hosted a roundtable event with a specific goal in mind; by the time the meeting was over, the president hoped education would have the financial backing it needed.'s Education Insider asks: Was Obama successful?

By Harrison Howe

president obama race to the top educate to innovate federal education funding

The Importance of a 'World-Class Education'

From his Race to the Top program to the Educate to Innovate campaign, President Obama has stressed the importance of improving U.S. schools through teacher and principal evaluations, technological advances and an emphasis on student performance. With a number of initiatives in place to help meet his goals, Obama turned to several corporations for financial assistance. His July meeting included business leaders and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Many of these businesses have stepped up, apparently heeding Obama's words: 'A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game.'

Game upped. Nearly $70 million was pledged by just three companies: $50 million from Bank of America, $15 million from Microsoft and $3 million (in addition to a previous pledge of $7 million) from Nike. In addition, $50 million will come from America's Promise Alliance, a partnership foundation dedicated to providing support to children across the nation.

Bank of America's pledge will be spread over three years and mainly target helping under-served and unemployed students to finish college, though it also includes donations to nonprofit organizations providing educational opportunities to low-income areas. Microsoft's funds will help with technological training for teachers, gaming development for student learning and engagement, and digital learning advancements. Finally, Nike's contributions through its Nike School Innovation Fund will go toward needed reforms in Oregon's schools by funding programs focusing on teacher leadership and student achievement.

America's Promise Alliance announced the Grad Nation Community Impact Fund, a philanthropic effort that will provide grants to help college preparatory programs, improve low-performing schools and assist needy communities to work with local businesses and school systems for positive transformation. The Fund is part of the foundation's Grad Nation Campaign, which largely addresses reducing the drop-out rate and helping students prepare for college or work.

In February, President Obama revealed that some education initiatives, including the Race to the Top program, will benefit from increased funding in his proposed 2012 budget.

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