A Better Chicago Hosts Education Summit

In May, A Better Chicago hosted its inaugural Education Summit. The invitation-only, half-day event convened over 260 business and civic leaders from more than 155 organizations and 30 speakers from across the country to explore how philanthropy can accelerate change and deliver a world-class education to every Chicagoan. The Education Summit built knowledge on key issues in education and philanthropy, bridged connections between leaders across sectors, and inspired participants to take action on one of the city’s most pressing challenges.

Sir Ken Robinson, popular TED Talk speaker and New York Times best-selling author, opened the Education Summit. He discussed how our country’s education system should be revised in order to focus on solutions that are more personal, holistic, and multidisciplinary. Robinson underscored the need to revive a culture of learning and described ways in which the U.S. should be supporting a more well-rounded learning experience. His remarks set the tone for thoughtful conversations throughout the rest of the afternoon.

Robinson’s presentation was followed by breakout panel sessions that took a deep dive into topics ranging from making big bets in philanthropy to effective strategies to transform schools. Speakers included members of A Better Chicago’s portfolio, such as Michael Milkie from The Noble Network of Charter Schools, Sarah Berghorst from OneGoal, and Sarah Makela from GROWCommunity as well as national leaders including Michael Feinberg from KIPP Public Charter Schools, Betsy Doyle from The Bridgespan Group, and Jehan Velji from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.  Visit our website for a full list of Education Summit speakers. The breakout sessions were highly rated with one participant sharing the event “provided interesting new content and ideas in an actionable way.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel concluded the program by highlighting the successes Chicago Public Schools has had and outlining the challenges the district still faces. He advocated for a focus on quality outcomes rather than narrowing to one approach to effect positive change in education. He encouraged the audience to consider many different avenues toward achieving desired results, including International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, charter schools, and service leadership academies.

Following the program, Summit participants joined a networking cocktail reception to continue the conversations. One participant said, “The event gave me the chance to connect with others doing this important work. I believe these touchpoints will be the start of valuable connections to further the work of my organization.”

Learn more about this year’s Education Summit by visiting our events page, check out photos of the event on our Facebook page, and join our community to stay up-to-date on future events that advance conversations about education and philanthropy in our city.