Broad Foundation Taps White House Adviser for Top Spot

Associate Editor

The founders of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation this week named Bruce Reed, assistant to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, to be the first president of the non-profit.

Reed will oversee the activities and investments of the foundation’s work to improve the nation’s public schools, and founder Eli Broad will become chairman of the Los Angeles-based foundation, according to an announcement from the philanthropy.

Reed first joined the Obama administration when he served as the executive director of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction commission and served as lead author of its report, The Moment of Truth. He was President Bill Clinton’s chief domestic policy advisor from 1996 to 2001. Reed and then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel co-authored The Plan: Big Ideas for Change in America, and he helped draft the bestselling book about President Clinton’s agenda, Putting People First.

Since 1999, The Broad Foundation—which has assets of $2.6 billion—has invested more than $580 million in improving America’s public schools. The Broad Foundation says its education work seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed.

The Broad Foundation has been in the news recently, with its August decision to award the Success Academy Charter Schools network $5 million. The following month, Houston’s school district was named the winner of the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which will mean $550,000 in college scholarships for graduating seniors. It was the second win by Houston in the prize’s 11-year history. Three districts were named as runners-up, each winning $150,000 in scholarship funding.

Some education insiders are not entirely impressed with the impact of the annual $1 million giveaway to inner city districts, according to a recent Whiteboard Advisors survey of current and former Capitol Hill staff, current and former U.S. Department of Education staff, and heads of education associations and think tanks.

The Washington-based consulting group found that 42 percent of those asked about the Broad Prize agreed that the annual award is an “important recognition of progress by urban school systems despite their overall low levels of performance,” while 15 percent said the award is an “inappropriate celebration” of urban districts given their overall low academic achievement, and another 42 percent fell somewhere in between those two opinions.


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