Evidence use and advocacy coalitions: Intermediary organizations and philanthropies in Denver, Colorado


  • Janelle Scott University of California, Berkeley
  • Huriya Jabbar University of Texas, Austin
  • Priya Goel University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Elizabeth DeBray University of Georgia, Athens
  • Christopher Lubienski University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign




intermediary organizations, philanthropy, foundations


The increasing involvement of philanthropists in education policy has contributed to the emergence of a dynamic sector of intermediary organizations (IOs), entities that serve a number of functions in school reform, including advocacy, consultation, policy design, alternative teacher and leadership preparation, and research. In recent years, many IOs have converged into coalitions that are pushing for incentivist educational policies like “parent trigger” laws, charter schools, vouchers, and teacher merit pay or sanctions often tied to value added metrics of teacher performance. This article draws on data from a mixed-methods, multiyear study of research use and dissemination. In this article, we examine the role of foundations in a broader advocacy coalition in Denver, Colorado, a key site for various incentivist reforms, including teacher pay-for-performance and charter schools. We find that IOs and their affiliated networks broker the production and use of research evidence, often targeting government and education policymakers, journalists, and increasingly, influential bloggers and social media communities. This brokering function positions foundations as the “hub” of research production, promotion, and utilization. 


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Author Biographies

Janelle Scott, University of California, Berkeley

Janelle Scott is a Chancellor's Associate Professor at the University of California at Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education, Goldman School of Public Policy, and African American Studies Department. Scott's research on the politics of K-12 schooling investigates elite and grassroots advocacy and interest groups, venture philanthropy, and the politics of research utilization around market oriented reforms, including school choice, and teacher evaluation and compensation. He work also considers how market-based educational reforms affect democratic accountability and equity in schools and school districts. She was a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Year Fellow and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. With Co-Principal Investigators Elizabeth DeBray and Christopher Lubienski, and funding from the William T. Grant Foundation, she is currently studying the politics of research production, promotion, and utilization in the case of incentivist educational reforms.

Huriya Jabbar, University of Texas, Austin

Huriya Jabbar is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, Austin. She studies the social and political dimensions of market-based reforms in education, including school choice and incentive pay, and how policymakers at the local state, and federal levels use research on such reforms. Her dissertation research on marketization and competition in New Orleans, Louisiana was awarded a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Year Fellowship, and the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Politics of Education Association and Division L of AERA. 

Priya Goel, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Priya G. La Londe is an advanced doctoral student of P-12 education policy and leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She studies data and research use, comparative and international studies of market-based reforms, and social justice education. Priya earned a MBA and M.S. in Education Organization & Leadership from UIUC and a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Sociology from DePaul University. Prior to her work at UIUC, Priya was a teacher and school leader in Chicago, New Delhi and Shanghai. 

Elizabeth DeBray, University of Georgia, Athens

Elizabeth DeBray is a Professor in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration & Policy in the College of Education, University of Georgia. She received her Ed.D. from Harvard University. Her research interests are the politics of federal education policy, policy implementation, and interest group politics, including the role of intermediary organizations in disseminating research and information about education reforms.

Christopher Lubienski, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Christopher Lubienski is Professor of Education Policy and Director of the Forum on the Future of Public Education at the University of Illinois, where he studies the political economy of education reform. He is also Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University in Western Australia. His most recent book, The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools (with Sarah Theule Lubienski) was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2013.




How to Cite

Scott, J., Jabbar, H., Goel, P., DeBray, E., & Lubienski, C. (2015). Evidence use and advocacy coalitions: Intermediary organizations and philanthropies in Denver, Colorado. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 124. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.2079



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