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Walton Family Foundation Gives $8 Million to StudentsFirst

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The Walton Family Foundation, a supporter of school choice and parent-empowerment causes, announced today that it would invest $8 million in StudentsFirst, a school improvement advocacy organization led by former District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

The foundation's $8 million in funding, which will be doled out over the next two years, is an increase from the $3 million the foundation has given StudentsFirst since 2010. (Walton supports Education Week's coverage of parent-empowerment issues.)

"Across the country, millions of parents are now empowered with the opportunity to choose strong publicly funded schools of all types—public charter schools, district, and private schools serving students on public scholarships—for their children. However, too many parents still do not have access to great educational options," said Ed Kirby, the deputy director of the foundation's K-12 education reform efforts, in a press release. "StudentsFirst is well-positioned to help empower parents with the information and policies they need to choose from more high-quality schools of all types."

The money is not slated for any particular program or initiative at StudentsFirst, but will go toward the more general national growth of the organization.

StudentsFirst advocates for policies that tie teacher pay to student performance, tie principal evaluations to school performance, increase teacher pay, eliminate tenure, create more publicly funded school options for students and families, and implement parent-trigger laws, among other policies, according to its policy agenda.

So far, the organization is working in 18 target states to create local coalitions to support the policies outlined in the agenda.

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