“It Isn’t Intractable; There Are Solutions.” How Raikes Backs Equitable School Funding and More – Inside Philanthropy – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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The Raikes Foundation works to improve the lives of young people by reducing youth homelessness and improving educational outcomes. The foundation was created in 2002 by Jeff and Tricia Raikes, who met when they both worked at Microsoft. (Fun fact: They were the first couple to meet at the company and marry during their time there.) Jeff Raikes later became CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he headed from 2008 to 2014. 

The Raikeses decided to make young people the focus of their philanthropy because of their experience as parents of three children, all of whom faced challenges as they matured. The couple realized that if their own children, who had so much privilege, were struggling, “millions of young people without the Raikeses’ resources were relying on outmoded institutions that didn’t truly support their development,” according to the foundation’s website. Those outmoded institutions include our education system, which was designed for a past era and a far less diverse population. 

The result is a foundation that takes on some fights that not every K-12 funder is willing to. For one, it’s tackling the stubborn issue of dysfunctional and inequitable public school funding, even recruiting peers to do the same. It’s also one of a small list of funders standing up to conservatives stoking panic over what they refer to as critical race theory. And in 2020, Raikes created the Black Leadership & Power Fund “to support the dismantling of anti-Black racism.”

The prioritization of racial equity comes from the top — Jeff Raikes writes regularly about diversity, equity and inclusion for Forbes. His opinion pieces feature headlines like, “Dear White CEOs: It’s Time To Lead On Racial Justice”; and “It’s On Us to Stop the Assault on Our Democracy and Ca


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