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What impact have recent crises, from the pandemic to racial and economic inequality, had on existing educational access and inequities and what opportunities do they present for philanthropy? The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is bringing together historians and philanthropy and education thought leaders to bring historical perspectives to contemporary conversations about educational inequality in a two-day “The Power of Giving” symposium Tuesday, Nov. 10, and Thursday, Nov. 12, from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. EST each day.
The symposium is part of the museum’s Philanthropy Initiative and complements and expands on the education focus in “Who Pays for Education?”—the featured section of the museum’s updated exhibition, “Giving in America.” The exhibition’s new section explores debates over philanthropic and public funding for schools in the U.S. Since the nation’s beginning, Americans have grappled with funding for schools from taxes and philanthropy. The updated display, which opened Sept. 25, features objects from educators such as Nannie Helen Burroughs, who founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in 1909 in Washington, D.C., and an Oklahoma teacher who made headlines for her roadside fundraising on behalf of her students in 2017.
“The inequities that have always been present in the educational sphere, from early childhood to the university level, are now magnified by the multiple pandemics faced by our social and health systems,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the Elizabeth MacMillan Director at the National Museum of American History. “Over two days, ‘The Power of Giving’ symposium will provide a forum for discussing the complex history of the United States’ educational philanthropy: the historic moment in which we find ourselves and successful philanthropic partnerships that are helping increase educational access.”
Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, will give the Nov. 10 keynote presentation “Confronting Educational Inequality: The Role of Philanthropy in Achieving a Just Society.” The virtual session will feature a welcome from Hartig and a conversation between Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch and Amanda B. Moniz, the museum’s David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy. A discussion on “Philanthropy Today: Advancing Equity in Education” follows with Darling-Hammond as well as Bob Hughes, director of K–12 Education in the United States Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Na’ilah Suad Nasir, president of the Spencer Foundation. It will be moderated by Liz Simons, chair of the Heising-Simons Foundation.
The Nov. 12 schedule includes a welcome from Smithsonian Board of Regents Chair Steve Case followed by the panel “Funding Opportunity and Resilience at HBCUs and Community Colleges,” featuring Eduardo J. Padrón, president emeritus of Miami Dade College; David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College; Ebony A. Thomas, senior vice president and racial equality and economic opportunity initiatives executive at the Bank of America; and Suzanne Elise Walsh, president of Bennett College. Philanthropist and Smithsonian Regent David M. Rubenstein will serve as the session’s interviewer.
The day’s second panel “Educators’ Perspectives on Equity Practices in the Face of Dual Pandemics,” will feature John B. King Jr., president and CEO of the Education Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education; Michele Hand, K/1 interventionist at Stanton-Smith Elementary School in Whitehouse, Texas; and Manuel Rustin, social studies teacher at John Muir High School Early College Magnet in Pasadena, California.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, is open Friday through Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Admission is free, but reserved timed-entry passes are required. To make reservations, visit si.edu/visit. Follow the museum on social media on Twitter and Instagram @amhistorymuseum and on Facebook at @americanhistory. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.
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