Foundations Commit $1.9 Million to Support Research Alliance for New York City Schools

A new consortium of New York City-based funders—including Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation—has joined forces to invest in the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York University. The Chicago-based Spencer Foundation also announced a substantial new grant to the organization.  Together, the five foundations have pledged $1.9 million to support the Research Alliance’s core operations over the next three years.

“These resources are critical for helping us build stronger connections with educators, policymakers, and community groups,” said James J. Kemple, the Research Alliance’s executive director. “Our aim is to produce ‘better evidence for better schools’ by engaging a range of education stakeholders, and conducting research that is not only rigorous, but also relevant to  the problems that educators face in schools and classrooms.”

Wallace Foundation President Will Miller, who played a central role in organizing the fund-raising consortium, said: “The Wallace Foundation is pleased to join with other foundations in supporting the Alliance. It brings credible, independent evidence that’s shared publicly to bear on decisions made by the nation’s largest school system, with the ultimate goal of strengthening student success.”

Since its founding in 2008 at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, the Research Alliance has undertaken more than 20 major research projects, with a variety of partners, and has shared its findings through numerous conferences, presentations, and published reports.

Research Alliance work has shed light on important areas of progress for the NYC school system, as well as persistent and troubling gaps between different groups of students. The organization has advanced educational measures that move beyond test scores, produced tools to help keep students on track for success, and illuminated strategies to improve struggling schools.

The new funding will support work that is central to the Research Alliance’s mission, but not typically covered by grants for specific research projects. This includes:

  • Fast-response data analyses that answer important policy questions or lay the groundwork for future initiatives;
  • Efforts to increase the visibility of the Research Alliance’s work, via conferences and briefings, new publication formats, the Web, media, etc.;
  • Relationship-building, especially with individual schools and school networks; and
  • The development of new areas of research and related partnerships (e.g., the Research Alliance is currently developing projects on universal pre-K, students’ transitions to college and work, and educational inequality).

“The Research Alliance is well-positioned to continue providing evidence on what works in education,” said Dominic Brewer, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of NYU Steinhardt. “We are grateful for the foundations’ support, which enables the Research Alliance to function in this critical role.”

Kemple noted that leadership from both the University and Steinhardt have proved crucial to developing the new pool of resources.

“NYU’s commitment and support enrich our work in so many ways—and have been essential to convincing funders that we are a worthwhile investment,” Kemple said.

The Research Alliance is one of a growing number of research-practice partnerships being developed in cities around the country. According to Michael McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation: “The Research Alliance is one of the leaders in a growing movement to forge mutually supportive relationships between research universities and school districts that build research knowledge to help schools achieve their goals. As a foundation committed to improving education through building new knowledge, we at Spencer are pleased to support the Alliance’s important work.”

About the Research Alliance

The Research Alliance for New York City Schools conducts studies on topics that matter to the city’s public schools. It strives to advance equity and excellence in education by providing nonpartisan evidence about policies and practices that promote students’ development and academic success. For more information, please visit


About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (@nyusteinhardt)

Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School’s mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit