The Evolution of Program Evaluations

Rigorous program evaluations, such as randomized controlled trials, provide critical evidence of what works in the social sector. Despite the fact that such studies are becoming more accessible from a cost and capacity standpoint, they are still completed by very few organizations.  What is driving the evolution of program evaluations, and what would it take for rigorous evaluations to become more common?  


The High ROI of Human Capital

It is widely believed that human capital is a high-return investment that is at least as critical as financial capital to the success of a social enterprise. However, by and large, the social sector does not typically emphasize human capital development, as evidenced by leadership development totaling just 1% of overall foundation giving.  Does investing in human capital result in greater outcomes?  If so, what are the barriers to human capital development becoming a bigger investment priority in the social sector and how can the barriers be overcome?

Making Big Bets for Social Change

Research has found that only 20% of the biggest philanthropic gifts go to social change giving, despite 60% of donors articulating a powerful social change goal as their dominant philanthropic objective.  Why does such a large gap exist between intention and action when it comes to philanthropic big bets? What would need to change to close the gap? 


Improving College Graduation Rates: The Next Frontier

Chicago Public Schools students are graduating from college at a rate of 14%, up from 8% a decade ago.  This increase has been driven by improvements in high school graduation and college enrollment rates. Among those who enroll in college, however, graduation rates have remained stagnant and that lack of progress will be the focus of our discussion.  What challenges continue to prevent low-income and first generation college students from graduating?  What innovative solutions are starting to improve the odds of these students earning a degree?  And what can we learn from these solutions to help even more students succeed?

Using Technology to Personalize Learning

“Personalized learning” is a popular buzzword in K-12 education reform and an area where big bets are being made by major philanthropists.  But what does personalized learning really mean?  What is the role of technology?  What is the role of teachers?  And can personalized learning really solve our public education problems?

Transforming Schools

To provide a world-class education to every student, we need effective strategies to transform schools that are not working, in addition to scaling those that are.  Many attempts have been made to transform existing schools across our nation and city, but few have met expectations.  Why is the work of transforming schools so challenging?  Where are we seeing success, and what can we learn from these examples?


The A Better Chicago Education Summit is an invitation-only event and exclusive for A Better Chicago's investors and partners. For questions or more information about the Summit, please contact