New Schools for Chicago Creates Bright Futures

New Schools For Chicago has launched more successful charter schools, creating better futures for underserved CPS students.

Better yet, its process demands measurable success and creates or identifies replicable models.

Building on this success, New Schools just launched a new campaign to open 50 additional schools by 2015. At this pace, charter schools could serve 30 percent of the CPS population—about 115,000 students—by 2020. Nancy Searle, John Rowe and Phyllis Lockett are at the heart of this. Other Chicago Civic Committee leaders and our city’s unique public-private commitment to substantive CPS reform deserve kudos, too.

The Fund was born when Nancy Searle teamed up with the Civic Committee leadership; they turned a $2.5 million donation into $50 million and that helped launch more than 70 schools and develop smart models for the future. Many families and community partnerships—including Kenilworth, Winnetka, Glencoe and Woodley Road groups—helped, too.

As Chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation and Chairman of New Schools, John Rowe embodies Chicago’s civic commitment to better public schools. A Wisconsin farm boy who obtained the highest level of corporate success, John brings common sense and keen analytical insight to his New School’s role.  

John’s passion and personal commitment are even more inspiring than his advocacy. He and his wife, Jeanne, launched and continue to support two schools with their own money and most importantly, their time.

“I am committed emotionally, intellectually, personally and financially!” John glories.

New Schools aspires to raise $60 million and open 50 new charter schools in the next five years. To do this, John explains, “We need a whole lot of other people to sit next to these kids and make a difference, too.”

New School’s Director, Phyllis Lockett, offers compelling stats, “The fact that 86 of the 87 graduates of Rowe Clark High School are going to college, in a system where 40 percent of the students drop out, is huge!”

Opportunities to participate aren’t limited to the wealthiest individuals and businesses. “We need every citizen to get involved,” Phyllis explains.

In addition to the fundraising, Nancy articulates a three-fold challenge, “We must educate parents in underserved neighborhoods on what a high-performing school is and that they should demand this; create and grow networks of successful school models; and share those models with CPS so it can take them across the system.”

A good education is the surest route to a better life for an individual and his or her family. Imagine Chicago’s future potential when 30 percent of CPS students are no longer in failing schools, but rather are empowered to dream of and achieve success. Fortunately, visionaries like Nancy, John and Phyllis have developed an excellent opportunity for anyone to help accomplish this goal.

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