Bright Spots

Unlocking Growth

Courtesy of National Inventors Hall of Fame

Overdeck Family Foundation's support and guidance have been instrumental in helping us grow our Middle School Future City program and exceed our goals for expanding STEM access for underserved K-12 students.—Kathy Renzetti, Executive Director

The Problem

Only 18 percent of students are “very interested” in pursuing a career in engineering, despite engineering jobs being a critical workforce need with strong projected employment growth over the next 10 years.

The Growth

DiscoverE raises awareness about engineering experiences and careers and promotes student engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through programs like Future City, National Engineers Week, and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. The organization’s signature program, Future City, offers middle school students the chance to use the engineering design process to solve a civic engineering challenge related to sustainability in a hypothetical city in the future. The challenge taps into students’ curiosity, problem-solving skills, and concern for the future and environment, and culminates in a national showcase where teams display their solutions and receive feedback from expert judges in the field. 

In SY 2022-23, Future City grew its reach by 94 percent, serving 67,000 students, nearly 1.5 times DiscoverE’s target of 45,000. This strong growth demonstrates continued demand for out-of-school engineering programs, as well as the success of the organization’s strategic staffing shifts and new investments in marketing. Educators and students who participate in Future City report positive impacts: 80 percent of students increase their understanding of engineering, 77 percent of students are exposed to STEM content they don’t normally receive, and 78 percent of educators recommend the program.

Based on strong interest for Future City among middle school students, this year DiscoverE launched Future City High School, a new pilot to bring its existing competition format to the high school age band. The team started enrolling new educators and teams in August 2023, providing an additional opportunity to continue growing student engagement and interest in engineering.

Courtesy of DiscoverE

Our Catalytic Role

DiscoverE has maximized capacity-building support from Overdeck Family Foundation, participating in the RevJen Fuel Series, a leadership cohort with The Center for Creative Leadership, and Listen4Good. Through these engagements, the team has built alignment on prioritizing earned revenue as part of its overall revenue model, and clarified internal roles and responsibilities as it seeks to scale its programming more aggressively.

Number of Middle School Students Participating in Future City

The number of middle school students participating in Future City is projected to nearly double from SY 2021-22 to SY 2023-24.

Kathy Renzetti

Kathy RenzettiExecutive Director

Kathy Renzetti has more than 29 years of experience working with small to mid-sized organizations, with 22 years of experience focused on nonprofits and philanthropy. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director for DiscoverE, with a dual mission of celebrating the accomplishments of engineers and engaging K-12 students in engineering. Prior to this, in her position at The Giving Collaborative, Kathy provided personalized counsel to nonprofit organizations across the United States.


PortfolioInspired Minds

Our Funding to Date$800,000 since 2021


HQAlexandria, VA

Overdeck Family Foundation has helped us make strides toward a future where quality materials are in the hands of every teacher and every student in the country. We could have never reached over 16 million students without their dedication and support.—Eric Hirsch, Executive Director

The Problem

Despite research demonstrating the critical impact of high-quality instructional materials on student success, less than 20 percent of materials used in classrooms nationwide are aligned to standards.

The Growth

EdReports provides reviews of K-12 instructional materials and supports districts and states in selecting high-quality instructional materials. Since the launch of its first reviews in 2015, EdReports has impacted nearly 16 million students in more than 1,400 districts, and influenced more than 40 publishers to improve their materials. In this past year alone, the organization reached 3.2 million unique website visitors (a 45 percent year-over-year increase), with 114 of the largest 200 districts, representing over nine million students, reporting use of EdReports to guide curricular decisions.

With the growth in independent information about the quality of instructional materials, the availability and use of standards-aligned English language arts (ELA) and mathematics programs continue to grow. In 2022, 36 percent of teachers reported using at least one aligned ELA curriculum once a week or more, on average—an increase of 10 percentage points over 2020 and 2021. Forty-eight percent of teachers reported using at least one aligned mathematics curriculum regularly—an eight-percentage-point increase from 2021. 

In addition to the growing use of its platform, EdReports has experienced a notable rise in demand for its technical assistance services. This has resulted in 19 new or expanded partnerships with states, districts, local education agencies, and nonprofits, designed to help partners build capacity to review and select high-quality and standards-aligned curricula.

Courtesy of EdReports

Our Catalytic Role

In 2023, Overdeck Family Foundation’s funding and strategic support allowed EdReports to prioritize innovation in the short term and strategic planning for the future. Based on current market demand, EdReports launched its Science of Reading Snapshots, which feature essential elements to look for when evaluating ELA instructional materials for kindergarten through fifth grade. The Snapshots are designed to make it easier for districts and educators to identify early literacy programs that are high quality, support all teachers in helping children learn to read, and meet new state requirements around the science of reading. 

Additionally, following collaborative engagements with NorthStar Education Partners and EdSolutions, the organization has prioritized refreshing existing reports and exploring expansion into Pre-K, science, social studies, and supplemental materials through 2027.

Percent of Districts Nationwide Who Use or Have Heard of EdReports

Over the past three years, EdReports has grown its district reach across the U.S. by nine percentage points.

Eric Hirsch

Eric HirschExecutive Director

Eric Hirsch is the Founding Executive Director of EdReports. Prior to joining the organization, Eric was the Chief External Affairs Officer at the New Teacher Center, the Executive Director of the Center for Teaching Quality, and the Education Program Manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures. He has supported policymakers in 40 states, written and published more than 150 articles, book chapters, reports, and policy briefs, and presented at conferences across the country on topics ranging from school governance to teaching quality.


PortfolioExceptional Educators

Our Funding to Date$3,699,315 since 2017


HQDurham, NC

Support from Overdeck Family Foundation has enabled FluentSeeds to carefully tend to all of our current partners, double the number of classrooms we serve in critical regions, and expand our impact with new partnerships across California.—Kate Horst, Executive Director

The Problem

Staff training and professional development (PD) opportunities are key drivers of early learning environment quality, but only 18 out of 62 state-funded preschool programs met NIEER’s threshold for supplying quality PD in SY 2021-22.

The Growth

FluentSeeds is an evidence-based PD organization that combines professional development training and materials with coaching and parent education, emphasizing quality in-classroom interactions and kindergarten readiness. In randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies conducted 2017 to 2021, children participating in SEEDS acquired gains of two to eight months of additional learning compared to children not in SEEDS programs. Subgroup analysis found that the program was equally effective for all Pre-K students regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, or multilingual learner status.

When Overdeck Family Foundation first learned of FluentSeeds in 2021, the organization was reaching just 11,000 children and grew primarily by reputation. Today, FluentSeeds reaches over 30,000 children, up from 21,000 the year before. This rapid growth is a result of more strategic customer acquisition and sales processes, which allow more young children to benefit from well-trained educators and high-quality early learning.

Courtesy of FluentSeeds

Our Catalytic Role

Overdeck Family Foundation has provided FluentSeeds with capacity-building support designed to help the organization better understand and define its target customer, as well as build a sales playbook. We encouraged FluentSeeds to participate in the Promising Ventures Fellowship, which helped the organization strengthen its outbound growth by developing a repeatable and reliable sales process, as well as engage with Listen4Good to better understand its customers’ needs and respond to them. As a result, FluentSeeds’ NPS score is now an impressive 80, 18 points higher than the previous year.

Number of Children Reached By FluentSeeds Educators

FluentSeeds has grown its reach by more than 18,000 children since the organization’s first year of implementation.

Kate Horst

Kate HorstExecutive Director

Kate Horst is the Executive Director of FluentSeeds. Kate has defined pathways for reading success by third grade by working with some of the lead thinkers in education for nearly three decades. Her work began through collaboration with the University of Minnesota and over many years moved through Reading Corps Pre-K, Early Reading First Grants, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, CARES for Learning, and now, FluentSeeds. Kate’s work has grown to serve communities in 12 states and Washington, DC.


PortfolioEarly Impact

Our Funding to Date$455,000 since 2022


HQStillwater, MN

I wouldn’t be the leader I am today without Overdeck Family Foundation. During my time there, I learned about supporting and scaling nonprofits, and today, am privileged to get to apply what I learned through my role at Teaching Lab. In addition to supporting me as a leader, the Foundation has played a critical role in helping Teaching Lab sustainably grow while maintaining our impact.—Dr. Sarah Johnson, CEO

The Problem

Teachers can have a greater impact on student outcomes if they receive curriculum-based professional learning, but approximately 23 percent of teachers report receiving no support on curriculum implementation, and 38 percent received only one to five hours over the course of the academic year.

The Growth

Teaching Lab is a research-based professional learning organization focused on providing educators with professional learning aligned to high-quality instructional materials and developing teacher leadership capacity to improve student outcomes.

Over the past year, Teaching Lab has reached 11,000 teachers (a 47 percent increase) and 730,000 students. The organization has accomplished this through continued expansion via large district and state procurement contracts, as well as by using blended delivery models and AI-enabled support that extend its reach while maintaining program quality. Recently, Teaching Lab launched an AI in Education fellowship program through its Innovation Studio, which will allow the organization to harness the power of AI to improve teacher practice and student learning and support its efforts to sustainably scale to more educators nationwide.

In the process of scaling, Teaching Lab has continued to generate evidence of impact on teacher practice and student learning: increasing teacher content knowledge 13 percent across partnerships; improving teacher practice 30 percent across partnerships; and increasing student learning 13 percent across partnerships. In some larger partnerships, Teaching Lab has demonstrated even more impressive student learning gains, for example, a 46 percent increase in student proficiency rates on grade-level tasks among New Mexico middle school classrooms with Teaching Lab-supported teachers. Teacher satisfaction also remains high, with over 90 percent of teachers expressing satisfaction with their professional development.

Courtesy of Teaching Lab

Our Catalytic Role

Overdeck Family Foundation has funded Teaching Lab since 2016, and the organization’s current CEO is a Foundation alumna. In addition to providing general operating support to help Teaching Lab generate evidence of impact and scale nationally, the Foundation is also supporting Teaching Lab’s new partnership with NYC Reads for SY 2023-24. This work will pair Teaching Lab with five new districts in New York City to implement high-quality English language arts and math curricula and support teachers through professional development aligned to these curricula.

Number of Educators Reached Nationally by Teaching Lab

Teaching Lab grew its reach by more than 7,000 educators over the last three years.

Dr. Sarah Johnson

Dr. Sarah JohnsonCEO

Sarah Johnson, Ph.D., CEO of Teaching Lab, previously held leadership positions with Overdeck Family Foundation and the New York City Department of Education. Dr. Johnson was also a high school science teacher and founder of a social justice student leadership program in Washington, DC and Oakland, CA.

Teaching Lab

PortfolioExceptional Educators

Our Funding to Date$5,625,000 since 2016


HQNew York, NY

Other Bright Spots

  • Unlocking InnovationUnlocking Innovation

    Unlocking Innovation

    Funding for organizations to develop and launch a new approach, intervention, or model that addresses an unmet need.


    prototypes generated


    early stage organizations funded

    Meet the Grantees
  • Unlocking EvidenceUnlocking Evidence

    Unlocking Evidence

    Funding to advance field knowledge or validate program models through comprehensive studies and research.


    validation and research studies completed


    grantees increased ESSA tier

    Meet the Grantees