April 30, 2004

Civic fund seeking $15 million to boost Chicago public schools

CHICAGO—The Chicago Public Education Fund, a group of civic and corporate leaders, launched a $15 million fundraising initiative Thursday to expand its efforts to produce effective principals and teachers for the city’s public schools.

Since the fund was launched in 2000, it has invested $10 million in programs aimed at recruiting and developing leaders for the Chicago Public Schools.

The programs have ranged from encouraging Chicago teachers to obtain certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to supporting principal training programs that emphasize hands-on internships, such as New Leaders for New Schools.

The specific programs to be supported under the new initiative still are under consideration, according to Janet Knupp, president of the Chicago Public Education Fund.

“We’ve been focusing on building a pipeline of talent,” Knupp said. “This new phase will focus on giving teams of leaders the support and tools that they need to be successful in raising student achievement.”

One focus is expected to be on how to attract leaders into the city’s lowest-performing schools, such as by providing financial incentives, she said.

“Teachers and principals who agree to tackle the toughest challenges–and then rise to meet them–ought to be compensated accordingly,” Knupp said in a statement.

The fund, chaired by Chicago Tribune president and publisher Scott Smith, already has raised $8 million of the $15 million it plans to generate for the new initiative. Contributors to the latest effort include the Pritzker Family Foundation, which invested $1.4 million, and the Citadel Group Foundation, which invested $1 million.


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