Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Growing Corporate Support for Charter Schools in Chicago

Mayor Daley and Arne Duncan have called on the Chicago business community, and local and national foundations to help raise $50 million to support Renaissance 2010 which is the Mayor's plan to make 100 new schools available in Chicago to under-served youth. In response, the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago committed to help raise $25 million and created the Renaissance Schools Fund (RSF) to support the transformation of Chicago’s public schools through greater choice and competition, and to provide all families with high-quality educational options.

This map shows locations of new or planned charter schools. A list of corporate donors shows commitments ranging from $250,000 to over $2 million. The map, list of schools and links to other stories can be found on the Medill Reports web site.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) supports this strategy, but as the chart above shows, we also feel that unless funds are not put into learning and mentoring that takes place out of the school and beyond the school day, the new schools will soon be struggling with the same challenges of the former schools, in that not enough kids come to school motivated, and prepared to learn, and not enough kids have an adult network expanding their learning, their aspirations, and their opportunities for jobs and careers beyond school.

Just getting a school started will not be enough to assure the success of a youth from when he enters one of these new schools at first, 6th or 9th grade. Business needs to stay involved for many years, encouraging employees to be involved as volunteers, leaders, donors, and innovating workforce-development strategies that can help more kids build the soft skills needed to succeed in school and work.

It's a good challenge as we head into 2008.

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