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Grants That Make a Difference: World Savvy

May 21, 2009

June is Funding for Education Month at the Foundation Center, and to celebrate we'll be offering a full slate of special events and programs designed to help grantseekers find education-related funding resources. In the following story, Dana Curran Mortenson at World Savvy describes how a grant and a collaborative relationship with the funder that made the grant have advanced the organization’s mission to educate students about global issues. (For stories about other grants that made a difference, click here and here.)

Grant Recipient
World Savvy
San Francisco, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and New York

World Savvy’s mission is to educate and engage youth in community and world affairs to prepare them to learn, work, and live as responsible citizens in the global community.

Walter & Elise Haas Fund
San Francisco, California

About the Grant
Two-year, $80,000 grant to support Global Educators Program.

The grant provides comprehensive professional development for middle and high school teachers (grades 6-12) in the Bay Area, building educators' content knowledge, skills, and capacity to consistently integrate contemporary world affairs into their teaching in all subject areas. School partners of the program are provided access to the following services:

  1. Professional Development, including one-on-one consulting; provision of relevant global issues curricula resources and materials for classroom use; one-day Global Education Institutes in August 2008 and 2009 and two on-site workshops annually.

  2. Online Global Educators Network: A range of online services that provide timely and high-quality global education resources to teachers.

  3. Community Connections: Partnerships with individuals, organizations, and associations in the local community and beyond.

Impact of the Grant
The program integrates relevant, current, age-appropriate global issues curricula into the classroom. By leveraging this work to reach more teachers and schools across California and the entire country, World Savvy seeks to promote systemic change in education so as to prepare youth for success and engagement in the global community in the 21st century. An example is World Savvy's Global Youth Media and Arts Festival at Zeum, which featured an exhibition of student’s original artwork on "immigration and identity," including that of students from Phillip & Sala Burton Academic High School (pictured). Through support from the grant by the Haas Fund, teachers from Burton High School received comprehensive professional development and resource support from World Savvy on integrating global issues in their teaching.

How did the funder and grantee work together effectively during the course of the grant project?

WorldSavvyPhoto The program officer at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund shared knowledge and best practices observed from the field with World Savvy and took a genuine interest in learning about World Savvy's model and approach. The conversations did not revolve exclusively around grant guidelines or geographic areas of service and evaluation tools, but rather the larger issues that the mission and vision of World Savvy sought to remedy. Since our program officer has extensive knowledge and experience in education and reform efforts and is deeply committed to those efforts, the partnership was mutually beneficial in that it offered opportunities for World Savvy to share challenges openly and explore solutions with the Haas Fund during the course of the program's implementation.

What makes this particular grant a good example of the effective use of philanthropic funds?

So often in funder-grantee relationships, the candor in approaching the challenges of difficult work is compromised by a need to demonstrate that the grantee has met strictly defined reporting guidelines and/or to showcase only those aspects of the work that exceeded expectations. It is a missed opportunity for the grantee to learn from the breadth of knowledge of the funder and for the funder to understand the challenges in the field from the grantee’s perspective. The best relationships grow from deep faith in the work and a commitment to institutional learning for both funder and grantee. World Savvy is fortunate to have benefited from such a relationship in this work. Our program officer is in every way an advocate, for us and for the work we do.


Do you have a story about a grant that made a difference? Submit your story, and we'll continue to feature them on a regular basis here on PhilanTopic, at one or more of our regional Philanthropy Front and Center blogs, and at other areas of our Web site. We also encourage you to submit stories of grants that are addressing needs associated with the economic crisis.

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