The Nord Family Foundation is a small family foundation with assets approximating $100 million dollars. Annual distributions for education-related fields are in the vicinity of $2 million.
In recent years, The Nord Family Foundation investments in education include private and faith-based schools. Typically these schools are located in economically depressed neighborhoods and draw students from families that face a variety of hardship and challenges. Among these schools are: Arrupe Prep, in Denver, Colorado; Epiphany Prep in Dorchester, MA; Nativity Prep in Boston, MA; the Denver Street School in Denver and the Cleveland’s Urban Community School. Funding private and faith-based schools vs. support for programs in public schools are interesting challenges for staff and trustees. For many foundations, the choice is to support one or the other. When one considers where the highest impact can be made, investments in public schools are harder to discern and are often hidden in the complexities of public school bureaucracies. That is not to say we do not have success in that area. Foundation support for The Center for Applied Special Technology CAST and its Universal Design for Learning has had high impact on delivery of instruction and learning in public schools. The foundation support for private schools (typically in a range between $10,000 – $50,000) appears to have very high impact on the young people served by them. Each school reports the same results – children from inner city families are transformed when they become part of the school’s community. A recent article in The Boston Globe described the Epiphany School, “The small school takes in children whose worlds can sometimes be filled with chaos, neglect, and violence – and devoid of role models or even warm meals and housing. Rather than ignore those forces or battle them one by one, the school has tried to create a competing and almost all-encompassing universe where students can not only learn, but grow up.”
Each of these schools seems to have a key to changing children’s lives: a caring environment, parental and family involvement in the education of the child, holding children to high standards and instilling confidence they can succeed in life. This philosophy strikes at the heart of the mission of The Nord Family Foundation. Schools such as these count on the generosity of foundations like this one, to continue transforming the lives of families in our nation’s inner cities.