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Taylor Swift becomes an education philanthropist

Taylor Swift in New York in July.
Taylor Swift in New York in July.
Alo Ceballos/GC Images
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Taylor Swift has embraced New York in a big way, and she announced today that she'll be donating the proceeds from the "Welcome to New York" single to New York's public schools:

Swift is joining a trend: charitable giving to public schools is up in recent years. Schools and school districts' nonprofits raised $880 million in 2012, according to a recent report.

There are two general trends in education philanthropy driving the increase, and Swift doesn't quite fit either. First, extremely wealthy donors have directed more of their philanthropy to support education reform efforts or established foundations that focus largely or solely on education: the Walton Family Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation among them.

Second, individual schools and districts fundraise on their own, sometimes through Parent-Teacher Associations. Several individual public schools in New York, all in the city's wealthy neighborhoods, raised more than $1 million in 2012, according to the New York Times.

Swift's donation, on the other hand, will add to the city's Fund for Public Schools, which helps pay for all kinds of things — everything from supporting arts education and recognizing exceptional teachers to renovating school libraries and testing a new teacher evaluation system. The fund had net assets of around $38 million at the end of 2013, according to its financial disclosures.

No word if the donation will have strings attached on how the city can use it.

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