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Change for education is a slow difficult one. That’s what Bill Gates would say. Working towards improving education requires making mistakes and learning from them. It means that some philanthropic investments in public schools may prove to be relatively ineffective. The fact is, the road to creating positive change can come with some high costs. Although knowing this, Bill Gates is still trekking in his pursuit to ensure everyone is given an equal educational opportunity.

From 2005-2011, The Gates Foundation has donated approximately $5 billion into education grants and scholarships. Through his years of philanthropic work in education, Gates has certainly learned a thing or two. He’s recognized that education is “an equity issue and a economic issue.” He has also recognized the high correlation between quality of education and academic success in low-income communities.

Bill Gates is all about impact. There were times when he generous donations proved to have little effect on education, but he’s learned from every one of these experiences and has altered he tactics accordingly. Back in 2004, the foundation invested $100 million into creating 20 small high schools throughout America, only to find that the number of students going to college increased by a small 10%. This was an improvement if Bill Gates was looking for just that, but he wasn’t; he was looking for a path to huge impact, and he realized his investment did not bring him to that road.

Bill Gates has noted that hardly anyone is investing in education research. He believes that in order to innovate and to create change, you need to understand the basic facts through scientific research. This seems like a reasonable claim. If you think about it, we invest dollars into medical research to fix medical problems, why wouldn’t we invest money into education research to fix America’s education problems? His proposition lines up nicely with his goal of creating big impact. Without research and knowledge of the basics, the money we are currently donating may not have as much influence as it could potentially have.

What do you think about Bill Gates’ approach to education reform?

To learn more about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, click here!