Instead of putting money towards changing these systems — by funding efforts to make college free across the country or by making it easier for low-income students to get access to decent public K-12 education, for example — wealthy donors tend to funnel their money into causes that keep the system they benefited from in place, Giridharadas said.
[M]ark Huelsman, the associate director of policy and research at Demos, a progressive think tank, points to the Kalamazoo Promise. In 2005, a group of anonymous donors made a gift to the city of Kalamazoo to send all of its high school graduates to college for free.
That donation helped a broad swath of students be able to afford college and pushed the city to build up its public schools and other programs to help prepare students to take advantage of the offer.
But even if more donors adopt that kind of approach, it won’t be enough to transform our higher education system. “We cannot rely entirely on philanthropy to get us out of the college affordability crisis,” Huelsman said.