The Ed Fund launches the Donald McKinney Center for STEM Education

Philadelphia Public School Notebook coverage of the launch of the Donald McKinney Center for STEM Education. Read story here.


Screening of Hidden Figures ignites interest in STEM among students

Philadelphia Public School Notebook Coverage of our Hidden Figures event 


Driven by difficulty, Philadelphia student shines.

This feature story, which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer showcases Jailene Rodriguez who participated in the Ed Fund's College Access Program and who was a Rising Star at our most recent EDDY Awards.


Philadelphia Education Fund receives $3M U.S. Department of Education Grant

On 9/12/16, The Philadelphia Education Fund announced that it is the beneficiary of a five-year, $3 million TRIO Talent Search Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, supporting the Ed Fund’s College Access Program for students at five public high schools in the School District of Philadelphia. The grant will be used to increase college readiness, applications, and enrollment for more than 1,200 students each year, through programs at five city schools: John Bartram High School, Olney Charter School, Roxborough High School, Strawberry Mansion High School, and Kensington Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) High School. Read more about this online at: WPVI - College Access Centers receive $3 million

by Cherri Gregg, PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Access Program Ensures College Is Possible For More Philadelphia Students

by Martha Woodall, philly.com - Philadelphia Ed Fund receives $3 million for college access program

by Wilford Shamlin III, Tribune Staff Writer, The Philadelphia Tribune - College access funding approved for five schools


Farah Jimenez Joined the Philadelphia Education Fund as President and CEO on April 25, 2016

Read about Farah in the May 17, 2016 online post of the "People on the Move" column in The Philadelphia Tribune.


Read the April 29, 2016 article "Farah Jimenez is bringing two decades of nonprofit experience to the Education Fund" by Tony Abraham, Generocity's lead reporter.


Read the April 24, 2016 article "SRC's Jimenez to lead Philadelphia Education Fund" by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Martha Woodall.


In Memoriam -- Don McKinney

With deep sadness, I share with you that Donald McKinney, our great friend, great educator and coordinator of the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition, passed away on January 27, 2016. Don, who won the 2015 EDDY Award for Commitment to Education, taught middle and high school science for 35 years. Following his legendary teaching career, Don worked on behalf of students and teachers across the city, becoming the coordinator of the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition, which has emerged as a collective effort to improve STEM education and opportunity for all Philadelphia's young people. The engagement and leadership of the School District, Mayor's Office, major universities, employers, community groups, cultural and nonprofit institutions, and k-12 educators is a tribute to Don's expertise, wisdom, and the friendships he made with nearly everyone he met. Don's passing is a deep loss for the education community and a deep personal loss for his family, all of us at the Ed Fund, and the countless who called him a close friend. A funeral service for Don took place on Jan. 30th and his obituary can be found here.




Read about the Ed Fund's impact on public education in Philadelphia through our partnership with Robeson High School and through our work with teachers to provide high quality STEM education through the Math + Science Coalition.



Philadelphia, December 1, 2015

We have two new infographics describing our work.

Learn more about the Ed Fund's impact on Philadelphia here.

Learn more about our Early Warning Systems program here.



Philadelphia, November 25, 2015 - Read more here.



Philadelphia, November 17, 2015 - Read more here.



Philadelphia, November 5, 2015 – Read the article here.



Philadelphia, October 20, 2015 – Read their letter here.



Philadelphia, October 19, 2015 – The goal of this FREE teacher-led convening was to celebrate effective teachers and build a strong network of teacher leaders to elevate your practice and profession. Local and regional educators were drawn together to connect existing teacher networks, collaborate on innovative instructional practices, and continue to build on existing networks to further enhance teacher voice and leadership in order to positively impact student outcomes. The agenda focused on the power of teacher networks, with a mix of guest speakers, teacher-led workshops, and networking time.

Read The Philadelphia Citizen’s recommendation here.



City of Philadelphia and STEMcityPHL partners selected as one of 27 inaugural communities by the STEM Funders Network to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities for youth


Philadelphia, September 3, 2015 – The City of Philadelphia’s STEMcityPHL, a partnered campaign to build collective public impact for STEM education and opportunities, was selected by the STEM Funders Network (SFN), a group of national grant providers from corporate and private foundations, as one of 27 communities to pilot the national STEM Ecosystems Initiative in its inaugural year. 

"I am thrilled that STEMcityPHL has been recognized for the work that it has already done to inspire children, especially low-income, minority and female youth, to get involved in STEM. We know that our regional economy is growing and thriving in STEM-related fields, and by investing in children now and engaging them in STEM opportunities, we are building a better educated and prepared workforce of the future," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "I want to congratulate our partners in this process. It is only through collective efforts that we will be able to expand and extend STEM education and opportunities. Thanks also to SFN for seeing our hard work and supporting us as we work to reach more children and families throughout the Philadelphia region."     

The STEMcityPHL Regional Network was one of more than 70 communities invited to apply for the Ecosystem Initiative. As a selected community, STEMcityPHL will receive support from SFN to better prepare and connect young people with the growing STEM economy. This designation provides no financial support. 

"These innovative communities are providing STEM learning opportunities for millions of young people both in- and out-of-school," said SFN co-chairs Gerald Solomon, Executive Director, Samueli Foundation, and Ron Ottinger, Executive Director, Noyce Foundation. "It is an initiative to design the kind of infrastructure that ensures that STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ and is a top priority for communities supporting youth to develop the skills and knowledge they need for success in a global workforce."  

STEMcityPHL, a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Education, the Philadelphia Education Fund and other area non-profits, works to connect young people throughout the Philadelphia region with learning opportunities that prepare them for STEM careers – the fastest growing employment sector in the region. 

"We have 530,000 STEM jobs in the region and currently aren’t graduating students ready to benefit from them," said Darren Spielman, President and CEO, Philadelphia Education Fund. "A collaborative collective approach is the only way to move the needle on this critical issue. If we want young people to succeed, jobs to stay, and the economy to grow, we all need to pull together in the same direction to get there. This initiative will help us do just that." 

The 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education served as the lead on STEMcityPHL’s application for the Ecosystem Initiative. 

"The significance of this project is that it will establish a much stronger relationship between national education funders and our local foundation and corporate community and education providers," added F. Joseph Merlino, President, 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education. "This enhanced relationship will enable us to devise coordinated and compelling approaches to better preparing young people for high demand and high wage jobs in the 21st economy, as well as to be more informed socially responsible citizens."   

Launched the Clinton Global Initiative meeting held in Denver, the STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative forms a national Community of Practice with expert coaching and support from leaders such as superintendents, scientists and others. The first gathering of the Community of Practice will be hosted at the White House in November.

For more information about the STEM Ecosystems Initiative, log on to http://www.stemecosystems.org/. To read the press release, click here.





March 16, 2015 

The Schools Plan No One is Talking About 

Ami Patel Hopkins, Vice President of Teaching, Learning and Innovation at the Philadelphia Education Fund, comments on the Philadelphia School Superintendent’s Action Plan 3.0.  


Phildelphia Education Fund President and CEO Darren Spielman speaks at Harrisburg Press Conference on Cigarette Tax Funding for Philadelphia Schools

Phildelphia Education Fund and Other Leading Education Organizations and Parent Groups United in Call for Passage of Cigarette Tax for Philadelphia Schools

Parents, School Leaders, Advocates and Faith-Based Organizations Join Together to Call on Legislature to Pass Legislation to Prevent Further Cuts to Schools

HARRISBURG, PA (September 16th, 2014) – A group of leading education organizations representing children, parents and advocates joined together in Harrisburg to call on the Pennsylvania House and Senate to act quickly to approve the cigarette tax legislation for Philadelphia and prevent further cuts to city schools.  The Philadelphia School District opened schools last week with even fewer resources than last year.  The district needs the state to enact the cigarette tax by October 1st to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of teachers and increased class sizes in public schools across the city.  

Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, pointed to the urgency needed to pass the legislation by saying, "The School District of Philadelphia is asking permission to raise local taxes to support schools. Without this revenue there will be fewer teachers in the classroom and fewer resources for struggling students. We urge the legislature to act on this vital legislation this week.” 

Darren Spielman, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund added, “Chairman Green and Dr. Hite have taken a risk on behalf of Philadelphia’s children and families -- opening schools on faith that leaders in Harrisburg will make good on their promise to allow us to tax our own cigarettes to fund the schools. Now, 200,000 students, their families, and more than 8,600 teachers and principals are relying on them to deliver. Harrisburg needs to act now. Uncertainty is unacceptable, and the consequences of failure are far worse.” 

Susan Spicka from Education Voters of Pennsylvania joined other concerned parents and advocates at a press conference in the Capitol Tuesday to urge members of the State House and Senate to come together on an agreement of the legislation.  “The political ping-pong game between House and Senate leaders has gone on for far too long and our students are the ones who are suffering.  Our elected leaders need to finally come together and get this bill done for the sake of our children’s futures,” she said. 

Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers said, "We can't keep opening schools without sufficient nurses, counselors, certified school librarians, art and music classes. 

The PA House of Representatives can do the right thing this week by passing an amendment- free cigarette tax bill. This legislation would enable our schools to restore at least some of the programs and services our children have lost to years of cuts to education." 

Michael Churchill, staff attorney for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia said, “There’s no more time to lose.  Students should be focused on learning and not on whether or not their teacher will still have a job at the end of the year.  It’s time for the Legislature to stop playing games, approve the money needed, and not impose new costs on the District.”  

School and parent leaders also stand in strong support of the cigarette tax.  David Hardy, CEO of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School said "This situation requires an immediate fix as we cannot make up a lost school year." 

Brian Johnson, a parent team leader for Mastery Charter School added, “We support the cigarette tax in Philadelphia for the betterment of schools because the end result is more school funding for the city of Philadelphia. A number of other Mastery parents and I traveled to Harrisburg last spring to push support for this tax because this funding will impact all schools in Philadelphia, including Mastery Charter Schools. Getting this funding is critical.” 

Faith-based leaders also understand how important the cigarette tax is to preventing more cuts to Philadelphia schools this year, but also understand that a long-term solution is needed to solve the school funding crisis. 

"We want to see the cigarette tax passed to support our schools,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, Executive Director of POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild).  “But we also bear witness to the great injustice that we are here to begin with. We need a full, fair funding formula for the state of Pennsylvania, so that no community - rich, poor, black, white, or brown - should have to beg for the bare minimum of funds that will barely allow us to buy paper for our schools." 

Jerry Oleksiak, Vice President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association agreed saying, “Every child in the classrooms of our Commonwealth deserves a school that is safe and that creates the right environment for learning. The funding provided by this legislation is a positive step in helping our children in Philadelphia toward that goal. Much remains to be done, but this addresses needs that kids are facing right now, today, and we encourage its passage.” 

Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) warned that any further delay by the Pennsylvania Legislature could put schools at risk.  “The Philadelphia School District’s first week of school went smoothly and our kids are hard at work.  This strong beginning of school will come to a complete stop if the Legislature chooses to use this bill to increase the cigarette tax rate in Philadelphia as a vehicle for other legislative priorities or as a 

‘Christmas tree’.  The Christmas tree already fell over last June. A bill that is a clean and permanent increase of Philadelphia’s tax base must make it to the Governor’s desk this week” she said. 



Philadelphia Ed Fund and Other Public School Advocates Push Governor for More Action to Guarantee Schools Open

PHILADELPHIA (August 6th, 2014) – Philadelphia’s leading public school advocacy organizations joined in calling for the Governor to back up his words with actions, this morning.  In response to Governor Corbett’s call for the legislature to return to vote on the legislation authorizing the Philadelphia cigarette tax increase for schools, advocates expressed the need for a definitive agreement by the House and Senate leadership with Governor’s call for the lawmakers to return to work and vote the legislation before school starts on September 8th.

Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth said, “The Governor needs to get a written agreement by August 15th from the House and Senate leaders that they will return to work and will bring the legislation to a vote before school starts on September 8th.  The Superintendent needs to know this is a certainty by August 15th so that he can responsibly open the schools.  The Philadelphia School District is under state control; it’s the Governor’s job to deliver that certainty. “ 

Sharon Ward, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center pointed out, that, “More than one in every 10 public school children in Pennsylvania attends school in the City of Philadelphia. There is no more important issue before the General Assembly than ensuring that these children can get back to school on time.” 

Commenting the gravity of the situation, Rhonda Brownstein the Executive Director of the Education Law Center, said, “We’re deeply concerned about delaying the opening of Philadelphia’s public schools.  We appreciate Gov. Corbett’s effort to ask legislators to return to the Capitol and approve a local tax measure that would generate revenue for the Philadelphia schools. What’s critical at this point, however, is an assurance, in writing, from legislators that they will indeed return and approve the bill. The School District of Philadelphia, and the thousands of families and children in the city, need to know as soon as possible if their schools will open on time.”

Michael Churchill, an attorney of the Public Interest Law Center for Pennsylvania pressed the point that even with the Cigarette tax increase, the district remains far short of the funds to provide a quality education, "Although the Governor's steps finally to help keep Philadelphia schools open are welcome, 'This is a terrible way to run a railroad'.  Philadelphia's students, parents, teachers and administrators deserve well funded schools which are not put through a weekly crisis on whether they have the bare minimum necessary. Legislators should be ashamed to go on vacation before they finish their work to keep schools open.  Even with the cigarette tax, Philadelphia students will have $2,500 less per student than the average student in neighboring districts, and schools without basics like counselors, nurses and adequate textbooks. It is time the state legislature and governor end this blatant unfairness.” 

Darren Spielman, CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund said, “It’s unacceptable that so many people have had to spend so much time and energy for the simple right to tax our own cigarettes, something city council approved unanimously more than a year ago. We need to spend our energy improving teaching and learning. That's the way forward. “





May 30, 2014

Last night SDP Superintendent Dr. Hite and the School Reform Commission took a brave, principled stand and refused to pass a 2014 – 2015 budget. The City’s charter requires the District to approve a budget by May 30. Dr. Hite said he could not recommend the budget, based on revenue have in hand today, "as educationally sound or economically prudent for the city or state."

Dr. Hite and Chairman Green issued the following statement.

The Philadelphia Education Fund applauds this stance. The budget is fundamentally educationally unsound. The City and State need to step up and do what needs to be done for children and the economy. 

Read Ed Fund President and CEO Darren Spielman's testimony before the SRC May 29.





May 7, 2014

Testimony to City Council

Submitted to the Office of Councilman Darrell L. Clarke

Darren Spielman, President/CEO, Philadelphia Education Fund

Thank you Councilman Clarke for convening this hearing and for the opportunity to testify today. Thank you Council for your commitment to the education of all Philadelphia’s children.


My name is Darren Spielman and I am Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Education Fund.  Many of you know me and the Ed Fund. We have served our city’s students, teachers, and schools for nearly 30 years. 

In all that time we have rarely, if ever, witnessed a moment as critical as this one.

We face a School District budget that should be acceptable to no one who cares about kids, education, or the future of our economy and our region. As you know, we are $216 million away from opening schools in the same woefully inadequate manner we opened them last year. Already -- caring, committed, competent teachers and principals are hanging on by their fingernails, trying to do their best for our children.

The following facts are clear.

- We are here today, first and foremost, because of State cuts to education funding since 2011. Cuts that impacted poorer districts most, and Philadelphia most of all. The State needs to act – now -- to fund our schools and -- in the long term – to build a fair and full funding formula that supports education across our state.

- When we have had more reasonable resources, we have improved. From 2002 to 2010, as investment increased so did performance. The on-time graduation rate increased from 52% to 64%.  Proficiency in math and reading more than doubled, from 20% to 51% and 24% to 57% respectively.

- We are only beginning to understand the impact of the massive cuts enacted since 2011, including laying off 3885 employees. Cutting our way from bad to worse is not a strategy for success.

- Since 2010, the City’s annual contribution to public education has risen by approximately $155 million. City Council deserves credit for this. Thank you. Similarly, districts across the state have been forced to raise taxes to cover education cuts at the State level; the only difference is our district does not have taxing authority. They need to come to you.

- It is the City’s time to step up again. To get us where we need to go in a way that is sustainable City Council needs to approve the use of the $120 million from the 1% sales tax extension for our schools. And we will need the $75 million Dr. Hite and the Mayor have requested.

- Crucially – under the current deal, the $120 million from the sales tax extension provides desperately needed recurring dollars for our public schools, and funds our pensions at 80% by year 2030. Further splitting the sales tax between schools and pensions, as Council has suggested, makes very little difference in the health of our pensions – getting us to 80% funded by 2028 -- a mere two years earlier. But extracts a terrible toll on our public school students, families, educators, and even the long-term viability of our school system and economy.

Given the above, I am concerned that at the City we may be waiting to act until the State acts. And that up at the State, they want Philadelphia to act before they do. These are understandable sentiments, to be clear. But at the end of the day they are adult issues and adult political assessments. 

It is certain that the State and the City need to put more funds into the public schools this year, and ongoing.

We need all sides to see this reality and get down to the business of doing what needs to be done for children, families, educators, and the economy of our region.



Philadelphia Education Fund's Reponse to School District's Budget Announcement

Again, we face a School District budget that should be acceptable to no one who cares about kids, education, or the future of our economy and our region. The State continues to be the biggest culprit in the District’s fiscal woes.  However, we have children in schools right now, and they need us to do what we can, locally, even as we push for more money from Harrisburg.

Because last year’s (insufficient) State support relied on non-recurring funds, the District is back asking for significant money just to maintain current, woefully inadequate, service levels.  We are dismayed at the prospect of another round of massive layoffs if the City does not release the $195 M the Superintendent has requested.  $120 M has already been set aside via the sales tax extension.  All Council has to do is approve its use for our schools.  We have faith that the Mayor and Council, working together, can find the additional $75M Dr. Hite’s requests.

When we talk dollars, it’s easy to lose touch with what they mean. These numbers mean another thousand jobs -- teachers, nurses, school police, maintenance staff – and with those jobs any semblance of an adequate education for most of our children.

Conversely, if City Council and the Mayor can do their part, and we can leverage additional funds from the State (for example, through refunding the Charter School Reimbursement line) the District can begin to move toward improvement, rather than cutting from bad to worse.  Let’s remember we have made real improvements in the past when we’ve had more reasonable resources. From 2002 to 2010, as investment increased so did performance. The on-time graduation rate increased from 52% to 64%.  Over the same years, proficiency in math and reading more than doubled (from 20% to 51% and 24% to 57%, respectively).

We know our children can succeed.  But not if our schools are starved.  There’s an old African saying, “when elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.”  In the game of school-budget “hot-potato” being played by the State and the City, I hope our elected officials are paying attention to who’s being crushed.


  Philadelphia teacherReimagining the 21st century teacher: Professional development from the bottom up (WHYY Newsworks)


coalition of Philadelphia educators are joining to reimagine their role in the landscape of public education.


East Kensington: Philadelphia Education Fund’s College Access Program Sets Students Up For Success


Philadelphia Education Fund Pres./CEO op ed in Philadelphia Business Journal: Helping first-generation college students get through that tough first year



Philadelphia Ed Fund and its successful Philadelphia Teacher Residency: "extraordinary organization(s) doing good in the city"

 Campus Philly online mag profiles the Philadelphia Education Fund
and its successful Philadelphia Teacher Residency, saying the Ed Fund is "an extraordinary organization that is doing good in the city."



A Call To Expand Teacher Residencies

In its January 30 article on the state of Philadelphia public education, Philadelphia Magazine rightly points to the importance of teacher preparation. They call for the expansion of Teacher Residencies, practical teacher preparation programs that provide deep hands-on experience and enable new teachers to be classroom-ready and fully engaged on their first day as professional teachers. The Philadelphia Education Fund has operated the Philadelphia Teacher Residency for five years, providing practical experience in the classroom with highly trained mentors, a network of mentors and residency participants along with which to learn, and three years of post-placement support to help ensure success in the classroom. The initiative operates in partnership with Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Evidence supports the practice. Teacher residency participants stay in the classroom and impact student learning in high needs Philadelphia schools over the long term. The Philadelphia Education Fund Team




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