Mackinac Center Receives $500,000 Education Research Grant

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation supports third year of education initiative

Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016

Chantal Lovell
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation has awarded a grant of $500,000 to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to support continuing research in education policy to improve schooling in Michigan.

The Center will use the gift to continue providing decision-makers and the public with the scientific research and information they need to create policies that meet the needs of students, parents, educators, policy makers and taxpayers.

Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman said the new gift will help all children reach their potential by ensuring access to a variety of schools that bolster their unique skill sets and help them meet their individual challenges.

“We share The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation’s mission of improving the lives of Michigan residents,” Lehman said. “The Mackinac Center is honored to partner with the Foundation to develop policies that bring expanded options and greater accountability to public education.”

The Center’s research will be particularly important in the coming months as the state of Michigan begins closing schools that — based on its flawed top-to-bottom ranking system — it has deemed failures. The state’s approach unfairly penalizes schools that serve disadvantaged students. Some of the schools that tend to serve a higher percentage of these students are particularly vulnerable to unwarranted closure.

With past support from the Foundation, the Mackinac Center created unique elementary/middle school and high school Context and Performance Report Cards that consider student performance as well as socio-economic background in assessing schools. This ranking system shows that some of the schools the state considers to be failures are actually defying the odds and performing beyond what is expected given the challenges their students face at home.

“Parents equipped with facts make better educational choices for their children,” Lehman said.

The Center will encourage lawmakers to incorporate its Context and Performance system into the state’s rubric.

“Grace Dow was an educator and we think she would be proud to support Mackinac Center research to improve educational outcomes by focusing on individual student needs,” said Macauley Whiting Jr., president of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. “We support diverse approaches across the educational spectrum to help discover what works best. Herbert Dow once said, ‘If you can’t do it better, why do it?’”

The Foundation supports a number of education initiatives including pre-K through graduate level, conventional and public charter schools, career and technical training, teacher training, capital, operations and more. Historically, education is its largest program area of grant making.

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About the Mackinac Center for Public Policy
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Michigan residents by promoting sound solutions to state and local economic policy questions. As a free-market think tank, the Mackinac Center is guided by its belief in free markets, individual liberty, limited government and the rule of law. Founded in 1988, it is headquartered in Midland, Michigan. For more information, visit