What Matters Most

We are inspired by the belief that a high-quality education is the best way to improve the odds for every young person. We are passionate about lifting all children, especially those from low-income backgrounds and youth of color, to a world of opportunity otherwise denied.

In today’s world, success means not just earning a high school diploma, but also graduating with the knowledge and skills needed to compete for family-wage jobs and successfully pursue higher education or specialized career training. We partner with leaders and organizations that share this goal. We collaborate to pursue high expectations and timely supports that engage students; prepare, hire, develop and engage outstanding educators; identify the smart policies, practices and funding streams that help schools, school systems and state agencies excel; and build capacity for effective organizations and investments.

Our Approach

In all of our engagements, we bring:

  • A strong urgency to improve opportunity for low-income youth and youth of color
  • A conviction that high standards—when reinforced by regular measurement, effective teaching, high support and shared accountability—can help all students excel
  • A willingness to embrace innovative ideas that help educators be successful and all students achieve at higher levels
  • A commitment to identifying best practices and effective policies, and finding ways to scale them
  • An understanding that even the best, most innovative ideas won’t be successful without careful attention to advocacy, engagement and communications

Education First supports organizations that share these beliefs by helping them tackle the barriers that too often get in the way: low expectations and too little accountability; poor planning and weak or limited capacity; funding that is trumped by competing priorities; system inflexibility and a general aversion to innovative ideas; a focus on what feels right rather than what actually works; and policy decisions based on what makes adults most comfortable, not what is best for children.

Helpful Resources

Featured Resource: High-Quality Assessment Project

Over three years, Education First has supported grantmaking and technical assistance to a network of grantee local and state advocacy organizations as they engaged in the critical tasks of educating state boards, legislators governors and the media; identifying and supporting teacher advocates; and engaging parents as new tests are adopted and administered and as score reports are released.

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Featured Resource: EdReports.org

Education First helped design and launch EdReports.org, a new national nonprofit organization that is the “Consumer Reports” for K-12 education, starting with instructional materials.

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Reform Integration Framework and Resource Guide

In the Reform Integration Framework and Resource Guide, we offer state and local education leaders a framework to identify priorities for integrating new reforms around college-...
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Implementation of the CCSS: A Transition Guide for School-level Leaders

In this guide we outline a set of indicators for school-level success in implementing the Common Core State Standards. We found that high-quality transition plans...
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