Funder’s Forum: The Edwin Gould Foundation
The Edwin Gould Foundation, which was established in New York City in 1923, incubates and invests in innovative organizations that get low-income kids to and through college. Foundation Center asked Cynthia Rivera Weissblum, its president and CEO:
Q: How does the Edwin Gould Foundation invest in capacity building to accomplish its goals?
“At the Edwin Gould Foundation, we believe that in order to improve economic mobility in our country we must expand the pipeline of low-income students who aspire to, prepare for, enroll in, and succeed at purposeful post-secondary education and college. No one should be handicapped by the school they attend or the ZIP code in which they live. Students from under-resourced, low-income communities deserve and need a strong K-12 education, they need information on how to access and navigate a reasonably-priced college education where they will earn a degree in a timely manner, they need access to career-related experience before graduation, and they need to graduate with a manageable debt-load. We have supported dozens of leaders and organizations who work on these issues.
“We operate a nonprofit incubator called the EGF Accelerator through which we work closely with entrepreneurial leaders to advance their goals and develop the infrastructure, board, advisors, and supporters needed to build an organization that is strong, both programmatically and operationally. Through the EGF Accelerator, we provide a battery of supports, including co-working and meeting space and consulting services. All organizations supported through the EGF Accelerator work in some way to improve graduation rates for low-income, first-generation college students.
“We recently added three new organizations to the EGF Accelerator: One Goal Graduation, Global Glimpse, and College Spring. Each addresses one or more of the critical elements that impact college completion. In addition we have also recently incubated Opportunity Network, Breakthrough New York, and Blue Engine in their work addressing academic preparedness and college and career success.
“The organizations we support are first and foremost focused on the efficacy of their products and programs with a keen eye toward attracting great talent, retaining them, and developing a network of advocates and supporters that believe in what they do. Their mission-driven focus, transparency, and collaborative approach are all directed towards better outcomes for low-income students.
“We continue to examine the profound inequity in educational opportunity in our country and especially here in New York. We seek to identify learning strategies that advance low-income students in writing, critical thinking, and math and are enormously impressed with the social entrepreneurs building educational tools and educational technology products that combine the power of technology and the master classroom teacher to achieve improved instructional outcomes. With these innovations we believe we can more effectively address these entrenched inequities.”