PSA is a non-profit and lives and swims in what might be called the Non Government Organization (NGO) ocean. For all our talk about living in a “market driven” economy, and one where capitalism with a big C rules, the United States, and pretty much all present day democracies in the world, function as some kind of hybrid between the private sector and the public sector.
This is notably so in the world of education, where in the US much of the funding for schools comes from local government tax collections, or state and even some limited federal funding. It’s not even always clear whether the so-called Private universities, are actually “private” in that their research components, which can be huge part of their budgets, are often federally funded.
And on the other side, though k-12 funding is generally government controlled, much of what is spent other than salaries, is spent on businesses who provide services, including construction of facilities, but also a great deal of the educational technology, food services, healthcare services, sports services maintenance etc…these involve businesses getting paid and doing the job.
In this hybrid world then, it is important to note how the different engines underlying education and related services actually work. PSA has noted the value of business models such as “Lean Startup” and found much in it applicable to our mission and goals. But there’s also the world of foundations, and government grants, that we need to understand. What models do they use to act in the world?
Here’s an article from a recent issue of the New Yorker that delves deeply into that question using the Ford Foundation as its touchstone. Lengthy article, but many courses of food for thought within.
This is applicable to PSA for various reasons, not the least of which is that our “What is Learning Today” project is, in its approach, very similar to a demo of concept that one might present to a foundation board, or grant agency.