The Schott Foundation for Public Education was founded by Lilo Leeds and Greg Jobin-Leeds in 1991. Lilo, a successful businesswoman, has been a social justice and public education activist most of her life. A successful educator and a social justice activist, Greg undertook the actual organizing and running of the Foundation.
In forming The Schott Foundation, Lilo and Greg sought to counteract the unfairness that exists for many children who attend struggling public schools with overcrowded classrooms and are denied access to quality teaching. They created the Foundation to build a more inclusive and representative education system that delivers a high quality public education to every child.
The Schott Foundation’s goal is to develop a broad-based and representative movement to achieve fully resourced preK-12 public education. At Schott, it is understood that in order to succeed, education advocates need strong, representative, and informed community leadership dedicated to insuring that every child has the opportunity to graduate from high school prepared for college, ready to thrive in life and make positive contributions to society.
As the Foundation’s first president (from 1993-2001), Greg established Schott’s first offices and assembled a top-notch public policy philanthropy staff. Under Greg’s leadership, the Foundation developed a long-term, focused funding strategy that helped achieve public policy changes in education in New York and Massachusetts.
To build a results-oriented movement, the Foundation has funded statewide legislative and voter opinion studies, litigation, donor collaboratives, leadership development, and media campaigns. In the mid-1990s, The Schott Foundation provided seed funding to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), which brought its landmark court case against the State of New York because of the state’s unjust educational funding formula. The case has set off a state-wide push to boldly reform New York’s public education funding policy.
In the late 1990s, The Schott Foundation provided seed money to start the Early Education for All campaign in Massachusetts. Convinced that all children need quality early education programs in order to flourish in public school, The Schott Foundation saw this as a way to create a movement to promote quality early education programs for all children in Massachusetts. Until the inception of Early Education for All, insufficient focus and leadership kept this critical cause from moving more strongly forward for tens of thousands of families and children in Massachusetts. The Schott Foundation’s strategy was progressive and risky in funding both of these fledgling grantees, but Schott had a long-term vision with clear focus. They saw talented leadership and the potential to build the public and political will. They realized that these initiatives would take years and other funders to move forward, and began the investment.
In 2001, The Schott Foundation entered a new phase of growth when Dr. Rosa A. Smith became its new president. Her visionary work around framing the educational vulnerability of young Black males as the litmus test for the No Child Left Behind Act has drawn national attention. Looking at the issue of gender with a racial lens, this new area of Schott’s work has caused school districts across the country to re-examine how they educate and measure the outcomes of their students who are most vulnerable to school failure.
On July 2, 2007, Dr. John H. Jackson became the President and CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education.