Our story begins in 2004 when a coalition of Oregon philanthropic foundations came together to explore how they might collaboratively address some of Oregon’s most complex challenges. These founders created Foundations for a Better Oregon and set out to learn what mattered most to Oregonians.
Children and their learning quickly rose to the forefront, prompting FBO to launch the Chalkboard Project—a statewide effort to improve public schools and education outcomes. Oregonians expressed a need to better understand how children and schools were doing; a desire to increase investment in public schools while also better understanding how school districts spent public funds; and a call for classroom teachers to be better supported in their work.
To amplify its impact, much of Chalkboard’s work was adopted into state policy. For example, the TeachOregon program led to new state legislation that strengthened mentorship for student teachers and supported national accreditation for teacher preparation programs. After piloting the CLASS Project and providing technical assistance to the School District Collaboration Fund, Chalkboard worked closely with Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Legislature to create the Educator Advancement Council (EAC), an innovative state entity dedicated to helping Oregon achieve high-quality, well-supported, and culturally-responsive public educators in every classroom.
And yet, Chalkboard Project’s approach and impact would not overcome the centuries of injustice and enduring systemic inequities that harm far too many children and families. FBO committed to embarking on a new phase of work, anchored in past learnings but oriented toward a new vision for the future.
Over the last two years, our work has shifted in critical ways to radically accelerate progress for children. We are moving to address the root causes of inequity, which are interconnected and compounding, and dismantle the structural inequities that exist inside and around Oregon’s public education systems. This work demands a theory of change that levels access to power, holds systems accountable to historically underserved communities, and centers community voice in the movement to drive transformative change.
Today, with a revitalized vision and mission, we have retired the Chalkboard Project name and returned to our roots as Foundations for a Better Oregon. With our experience in advocacy, research, convening, and storytelling, we are collaborating with partners to advance a shared, long-term, and community-centered vision for Oregon’s children while strategically responding to real-time opportunities and challenges.