Foundations: Remember Special Education in Your COVID and Post-COVID Investments

May 12, 2020 11:00 AM ET

To help U.S. philanthropy understand how to best deploy COVID response efforts that are inclusive of students requiring accommodations in public education, FSG sought counsel from leaders of three organizations that work to ensure equitable access for special education students: Lindsay Jones of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD); Lauren Morando Rhim of the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS); and Heather Graham of Oak Foundation.

Four key themes emerged from the interviews:

  1. There is a need to plan for a new normal within public education that is heavily reliant on distance learning and competency-based policies but avoids exacerbating opportunity gaps.
  2. Children receiving special education will face the same problems other students face but in more pronounced ways.
  3. Philanthropy should stop viewing special education as a silo; supporting those with special needs must be core to every investment.
  4. In their COVID responses, foundations should address the disparities that are coming to the forefront. Post-COVID, foundations should seed innovations that address the root causes of these inequities.

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About FSG

FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change. Through customized consulting services, innovative thought leadership, and support for learning communities, we help foundations, businesses, nonprofits, and governments around the world accelerate progress by reimagining social change. Learn more at