why do we invest in education?

At the Raikes Foundation, we believe that all young people should have access to rich, supportive and challenging educational experiences that affirm who they are and prepare them to thrive as adults in family, community and career.

While we’ve made progress as a country in raising high school graduation rates, race and class remain the most reliable predictors of students’ educational outcomes at a time when our school system and our nation are becoming more diverse. In fact, the post-secondary completion gaps by race and income have increased over the last several decades.

Why? The education system we have today is a relic of another era. It was designed to provide the quality educational experience every young person needs to only a privileged few, sorting and tracking young people on the basis of their sex, their race and their family’s income. And while that system is no longer overt, its legacy remains.  So how do we create an education system that serves all young people well? Results over the past two decades show us that we can’t address educational disparities simply by increasing rigor and focusing on teacher quality. Standards are important but they don’t address how and why children learn and the environments that help them thrive.

The science of learning and development is showing us the way. Many of the lessons this research teaches us reinforces what we learn when we listen to the voices of underserved students and their families and the educators who work with them. It is time to reimagine an education system that is responsive to the needs and experiences of all young people, particularly students of color and those from low-income backgrounds. Investing in an equitable education system is one of the most important contributions we can make to help create a more just and economically viable society.



what we're learning

The science of learning and development reveals that while what students learn is important, the environment adults create to support them is essential to their success as adults. When schools affirm students' identities, surround them with supportive relationships, help them explore what they value, encourage them to recognize their strengths and skills, and make the connection between what students do in school and their lives and a purpose beyond themselves, all students can learn and achieve. When students are valued and respected as individuals and are not reduced to a stereotype, they persist in school, learn deeply and become lifelong learners.

The right school environment can help enable the learning mindsets and skills that allow all students to be successful. Students have learning mindsets when they know that intelligence grows with mental effort, understand that struggling with new challenges is a normal part of the learning process, can relate lessons to their own lives, and believe that they belong and can succeed in the classroom. Learning mindsets work hand in hand with educational skills such as time management, goal setting, and knowing when to ask for help. Together, learning mindsets and skills give students the beliefs, tools and habits they need to learn more of the content they are taught, seek out new challenges and persist through them.


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How we work

Invest in the Science of Learning and Development. We fund research on how young people learn, develop and thrive and work to translate it into the classroom. Our investment in the Mindset Scholars Network is building the evidence and insights about how students’ psychological experience of school matters to their learning and life outcomes. In addition to funding basic science, we also work with researchers to design and test strategies and measures that teachers and schools can use to create classrooms that will foster engaging, growth-oriented, meaningful and equitable learning environments.

Redesigning Schools and Systems. We believe deep and meaningful change in our education system will only happen at the intersection of the perspectives of learning scientists, educators, young people and their communities. We support powerful networks that engage and integrate diverse perspectives to redesign schools and systems that work for all young people. The Raikes Foundation created the Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) Network to bring together a diverse group of organizations that are already working with schools to use the science of learning and development to improve outcomes for students of color and low-income students. We also support the College Transition Collaborative and Project for Education Research that Scales to help post-secondary institutions implement interventions and make institutional changes that will enable students to persist and complete college.  

Create the Conditions. To ensure our public education system promotes opportunity for all we need education policies and educator preparation that foster equitable learning environments. We invest to support communities, educators and policymakers as they create policies that leverage the science of learning and development to advance equity.  We also support field building efforts to advance the science of learning and development and its application in education. 


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It is mid-morning on a warm, spring Wednesday, and Erick Delcham is darting from student to student in his Algebra III class at North Queens Community High School. 

Delcham smiles and laughs as he pushes his students to explain how they are trying to answer the problems in front of them.

“Notice what you are doing now?” he encourages a quiet boy named Kuron, who has floated an idea about how to solve a Pythagorean equation. “You are conjecturing!”

I am more convinced than ever that mindsets towards learning could matter more than anything else we teach.

– Sal Khan, Founder and Executive Director of Khan Academy

Illustrative Grants

National Equity Project

This grant supports the National Equity Project in managing and providing technical assistance to the Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) Network. The BELE Network is a group of nonprofit school support organizations and learning partners working to dramatically narrow opportunity and achievement gaps for students of color.

College Transition Collaborative

This grant provides support for the College Transition Collaborative to partner with colleges and universities to develop scientifically-proven, psychologically-informed approaches to placing student experience at the center of schools’ efforts to increase student engagement, retention, and completion.

Equal Opportunity Schools

Through the BELE Network, this grant supports the application of learning mindset research to increase the participation of low-income students and students of color in high school Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

Learning Policy Institute

This grant supports the Learning Policy Institute’s synthesis of research and policy recommendations around equitable school funding in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Projects for Education Research that Scales (PERTS)

As a Learning Partner within the BELE Network, PERTS supports nonprofit school support organizations with quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, with the goal of ensuring students have access to equitable learning environments.

Mindset Scholars Network

This grant supports interdisciplinary research to advance understanding of learning mindsets that improve student outcomes and expand educational opportunity.