Oxford Philanthropic

Oxford Philanthropic improves education globally by providing customised high level strategic and technical advice to philanthropists, foundations, investors and public institutions, in both emerging and advanced economies.


Our Vision

Nick Burnett and Beau Crowder, Oxford Philanthropic founding partners, believe in the enormous potential of philanthropic and private capital to transform education for the world’s most disadvantaged children. 

We believe that the development sector as a whole and education in particular has suffered from a risk averse approach. We seek to both challenge the existing paradigms, and bring together the best practices of the private/foundation sector and institutional aid architecture to achieve lasting impact.

Philanthropies and the private sector carry intrinsic advantages of flexibility, innovation and risk taking, but often achieve less than they could. Philanthropies and the private sector face three core obstacles to success:

1.  Funding Disparities:

  • The quantity and coordination of funding. These result in missed opportunities for leveraged and catalytic funding, and the most effective allocation of resources.

 2.  Knowledge Asymmetries:

  • In both access to information, and evidence over time.  It is difficult for philanthropies and the private sector to apply the latest research and to generate evidence that can be shared at the policy and implementation levels.

 3.  Diverse Incentives:

  • Understanding the different incentives that other players face. Philanthropies have differing visions and philosophies from each other and especially from other actors within the education ecosystem.


We see the education sector as a complex set of interrelationships that needs to be looked at through a systemic lens. Oxford Philanthropic helps you understand and navigate the ecosystem, take appropriate risk and increase impact.

Specifically we:

Define and develop strategic opportunities:

  • Political economy analysis
  • Analyse portfolios
  • Identify sectoral entry points

 Optimize program impact:

  • Assess potential for innovation
  • Evaluate opportunities and risks over time
  • Design for systemic change at scale

 Connect funders and players within the education ecosystem:

  • Align funding to improve efficiency and impact
  • Map inter-sectoral linkages between education to health and livelihoods
  • Link knowledge to practice and implementation

    We are unique:

    We have experience spanning philanthropy, high level donors, national governments and the private sector, including extractive resource industries.

    We understand system contexts, the levers and drivers of the education sector. We possess the necessary skills to marry practical program implementation to realistic policy.

    Our advisory services support innovative and ambitious actors identify their comparative advantage and help them achieve positive systemic change at multiple funding levels.

    We engage with our clients over the long term, mentoring and guiding as their learning partner.

    Fields of expertise:

    • Policy and Expenditure Analysis
    • Innovative Financing Instruments
    • Public Private Partnerships
    • Global Public Goods and Knowledge Transfer
    • Education Ecosystem Mapping
    • Non State Education
    • Early Child Education
    • School Health and Nutrition
    • Education in Emergencies
    • Education Technology

    Who we are


    Nick Burnett

    Nick has over 35 years of experience in international education, holding high level positions in international organizations, think tanks and academia.

    Most recently Nick founded and managed the global education program at Results for Development (2010-17), where he remains a Senior Fellow.  He was previously UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education (2007-09), Director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (2004-07), an independent international education consultant (2001-03) and a World Bank staff and manager (1983-2000).

    Nick is also chair of the Governing Board of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning and serves on the Boards of Cap Plus, Educate!, and Americans for UNESCO.  He is a member of the NORRAG Consultative Committee, the Advisory Board of the Global Business School Network, and the Advisory Council of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area.  He is a Special Professor of International Education at Nottingham University, was in 2014-15 a visiting professor at Hiroshima University, and is a member of the Correspondents Board of Prospects.  In addition, he served as a senior staff member of The Education Commission in 2016 and as chair of the Selection Panel for the Al-Sumait Prize for African Education Development in 2017.

    He takes a very broad view of the education sector and its financing, and is especially concerned with relatively neglected topics such as out of school children, innovative finance, early childhood development, non-state education and the provision of global public goods.

    He was educated in Economics at Oxford University (BA), Harvard (Henry Fellow) and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (MA, PhD).


    Beau Crowder

    Beau has over 20 years experience in the development and education sectors, spent designing and managing integrated program strategy and supervising project assessment, administration and evaluation in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

    He is the representative for the foundation/private sector constituency on the Global Partnership for Education Strategy and Impact Committee. The Committee concerns itself primarily with GPE global-level issues related to strategic planning, education policies, developing funding frameworks and monitoring performance and results.

    He has extensive experience in strategic portfolio development, systemic design and management, plus developing monitoring and evaluation protocols. He advises corporations in the extractive resource sector on socially responsible development policy, program design and implementation. His education sector focus includes early child development, primary education, public/private partnerships, as well as school health and nutrition. He specializes in developing strategic programmatic partnerships with national governments, multi and bi lateral donors and foundations.

    Beau’s past roles include the Director of Programs at Dubai Cares, responsible for the strategic planning, design and management integrated worldwide education and development portfolio spanning 32 countries and over 70 programs. Prior to this he was a Senior Advisor on USAID funded programs in Afghanistan and Indonesia, also serving as a Country Director on programs in Central Africa and Eastern Europe during his nine years managing US Government funded development programs.

    Beau holds a BA in Geography from Oxford University and an MSc in Economics from Imperial College, University of London.



    Unparalleled Breadth of Experience

    We have collaborated with a broad range of education bi and multi-laterals, the private sector and foundation actors.

    Bilateral donors:UK Dfid, USAID, Australian Department of Finance and Trade,  French Ministry of Cooperation, Grand Challenges Canada and the Education Commission

    Multilateral donors: The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF and the Global Partnership for Education.

    Private sector collaborations: Pearson, Vitol, Hess Corporation, Omega Schools, DAI, FSG, Universalia and Results for Development.

    Foundations: Open Society Foundation, Dubai Cares, Vitol Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Qatar Foundation, UBS Optimus, Jacobs Foundation, Lego Foundation, the Mastercard Foundation and the Children's Investment Fund Foundation.

    INGOs: Save the Children, IRC, Oxfam and Care International.

    Academic collaborations: Oxford University, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Nottingham University, University of Hiroshima and the University of Cape Town, the Comparative and International Education Society and British Association for International and Comparative Education

      Countries where we have worked:

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