Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair; Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Member; Frank R. Kemerer, PhD, Member


advocacy, board governance, California, case studies, community relationships, education foundations, fundraising, Leadership studies, mixed methods study, organizational structure, private funds, program delivery, Proposition 13, public schools, quantitative, school administration


Limited and unstable funding for education has inspired supporters of schools to seek private funds to help pay for public education. Private funds generated at the local level could also, conceivably, reinstate at least a modicum of local control of public schools. Local control, in California at least, has been minimized over the last 30 years as a result of a number of legal decisions related to equity and ballot initiatives such as Proposition 13. One mechanism for channeling private funds to public schools is nonprofit education foundations linked to schools or districts. The total number of these foundations has been growing exponentially throughout California and other states for the last three decades. Over the same period, the total assets of education foundations and the revenue generated for beneficiary schools and districts has grown as well. As education foundations become more influential in public school systems, questions arise about their impact on issues of equity and the distribution of power, as well as about their overall efficacy in promoting school improvement and student achievement. Before such nuanced questions can be addressed, however, some sort of mapping of existing education foundations and their operations is required. This study represents an initial step in this mapping process and provides baseline information for future policy studies. T he study employed a two-phase, mixed-methods research design. The first phase of the study entailed analyzing both existing databases about nonprofit organizations and the results of a survey administered as part of the study. Data from phase 1 describe general characteristics of nonprofit education foundations in California and identify how different education foundations address the following key organizational elements identified in the literature on nonprofit organizations: organizational structure, board governance, fundraising, program delivery, advocacy efforts, and community relationships. The second phase of the study consisted of case studies of three different education foundations. Findings from this phase complemented the study's quantitative results by providing relatively "thick" description of each organization's mission, structure, external relationships, measures of success, and advocacy efforts. The cases also documented the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats articulated by key stakeholders.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies