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Striking a balance in education philanthropy: A commentary by Annie W. Bezbatchenko and Tamara Mann Tweel

December 27, 2021

Remote_learning_mother_boy_GettyImages_SeventyFourAchieving both breadth and depth in education philanthropy

Picture a one-room schoolhouse. Ten children ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old are seated in front of a teacher who lives in their community. Now picture the Khan Academy. Fifteen million students, each in a separate room, digesting short video lessons recorded by hundreds of individuals in countries they may have never visited. The leap from the physical room to the virtual room is both thrilling and destabilizing. On the one hand, education has been democratized and access to it made available to millions of students. On the other hand, education has been sapped of the emotional vitality that connects a student to a teacher and a group of peers.

For foundations invested in education, the choices can seem stark: Do we help educate the many or the few? Do we focus on large-scale content delivery or personal mentorship? Do we aspire for reach or for depth? At the Teagle Foundation, with its focus on liberal arts education, we have tried to navigate the options by exploring new mediums of scale without losing our grip on the longstanding benefits that a humanistic education offers: (a) a relationship with a teacher; (b) relationships with peers; and (c) texts that shape how students understand the world and their place within it. Rather than pursue an either/or approach in our grantmaking, we have sought to strike a balance between the two....

Read the full commentary by Annie W. Bezbatchenko and Tamara Mann Tweel, senior program officer and program director for civic initiatives, respectively, at the Teagle Foundation.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/SeventyFour)

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