Bold Ideas in Education with Harvard Graduate School of Education

A good education is the best – and least expensive – fix to most social ills. Schools that engage and succeed are in everyone’s best interest.Better_You_Harvard_Feature

No institution enjoys greater impact in education reform than Harvard. And no city has made greater progress in urban education reform than Chicago. So naturally, Harvard convened civic leaders, its alumni and others in Chicago for the first “Bold Ideas In Education” outreach of its Graduate School of Education capital campaign.

Harvard University in Chicago

(left to right): Honey Skinner, Lindsay Chase-Landsdale, Susan Noyes, Eileen Murphy and Terese Sommer

Chicago Board of Education Chairman David Vitale moderated the event at The Casino. Professors Monica Higgins, Tom Kane and Paul Reville presented compelling research and data. With thoughtful questions and comments, expert panelists and audience members continued the discussion of big ideas for improving schools. Everyone left feeling inspired and more connected to a hopeful future for all children and schools.

I was particularly proud to cohost this event that brought together thoughtful education philanthropists – like the leadership of the Chicago Public Education Fund, for which I was a founding board member 15 years ago.  It was a vivid reminder of the growing impact this type of philanthropy has on our city.

A Better Chicago CEO Takes a Stand for Chicago Charter Schools

The Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity (which is part of the University of Minnesota Law School) recently published a repoA Better Chicago supports charter schools in Chicagort that assessed how Chicago’s charter schools are performing relative to comparable CPS schools (aka neighborhood public schools).  The report concluded that charter schools are no more effective (and perhaps less effective) than neighborhood schools on a number of performance metrics.  Additionally, the report recommended a three-year moratorium on opening new charter schools in Chicago, as well as a host of other actions that would make it harder to open additional charter schools in the future.A Better Chicago supports charter schools in Chicago

After reading this report, Liam Krehbiel, Founder and CEO of A Better Chicago felt compelled to write an op-ed for two reasons.  Here’s what he had to say; “First, we at A Better Chicago want to share a different approach to thinking about charter school performance.  It is absolutely true to say that there are some underperforming charter schools. However, it is misleading to only think about charter school performance in the aggregate.  As you’ll see in the op-ed, many of our city’s veA Better Chicago supports charter schools in Chicagory best open enrollment public schools are charter schools.

He continues; “But, the bigger point is that we need to change the conversation.  Rather than focusing on charter schools versus neighborhood schools, we need to think about how to create more great schools (of all types) and how to fix or shut down more bad schools.  In other words, let’s end the ideology debate and instead focus on pursuing whatever practical solutions are available to us to give Chicago’s students the best chance of getting a great education.”

Finding and growing the best practices to insure a good education shouldn’t be a political issue.  Collaborative efforts to support and grow what works is the future.  Liam Krehbiel is spot on.

I’m very proud to be an advisory board member of A Better Chicago. Consider getting involved yourself.

A Better Chicago’s Project Impact Finalists

I’m very excited to have served on the judging panel for A Better Chicago and congrats to the Project Impact finalists; Curt’s Café, The Dovetail Project, Foundations College Prep, Intrinsic Schools, VOCEL.. Here’s a quick summary from A Better Chicago!


Congratulations to the Project Impact finalists!  These six nonprofits will present at the Project Impact finals event for their chance to win up to $100K and become part of A Better Chicago’s portfolio for one year.  Learn more about the finalists’ inspiring work the community, and attend the finals event on 11/13 to cast your vote!  Buy $20 tickets here.

Project Impact is a social innovation competition awarding a total of $200K and 12 months of management support to three early-stage nonprofits using innovative strategies to improve the lives of low-income Chicagoans. MORE >

A Better Chicago

Part 2; Best Annual MIB Supported Fundraisers

Welcome back to Part 2 of my posting of top MIB Supported Fundraisers.

Today, we’ll look at top NFP Gala’s in the area of Service and Schools.

1. City Year Ripples of Hope Gala (4/2015) This year’s Gala was a huge success; it took place on April 9, 2014 and raised a total of $903,685 in support of our service to the students of Chicago. View photos from the evening on City Year’s Flickr Page. Thanks were given out to ;

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
City of Chicago

Mark Furlong
CEO, BMO Harris Bank

Read and subscribe to the City Year Blog, as well.

2. Posse Foundation Chicago Golf Outing and Cocktail + Dinner Reception, (9/2015)

Their website says it all; “Posse is one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States. In fact, President Barack Obama said in an interview in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “One of this year’s MacArthur awardees—the ‘genius’ awards—is an innovator named Deborah Bial. She proposed a model to identify promising students from…urban backgrounds using an alternative set of qualities as predictors of success in college. …The students that are selected form a ‘Posse’ and are provided with extra supports, and end up graduating from selective colleges with a very high success rate.”

3. After School Matters Annual Gala (9/2015)

There’s still time to attend the 2014 After School Matters Annual Gala or simply plan for 2015.

After School Matters organization

After School Matters® is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago high school teens innovative out-of-school activities.

4. Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund 25th Anniversary (10/25/14)

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund

This event is just around the corner so find out more and buy tickets here.

5. Invest For Kids Conference (11/6/14)

Invest For Kids is a unique forum that brings together portfolio managers, family offices, private investors and analysts to learn about strategies and specific investment ideas from a leading group of investment managers.  Their Sixth Annual Event is coming up in a little over a month at Harris Theater. You can register now.

6. A Better Chicago Project Impact Awards (11/13/14)

Watch a video overview of the Project Impact, which is fascinating. Project Impact is a competition that harnesses the power of innovation to move the needle for those in need. Nonprofits across the country can use this prize to launch or grow their presence in the Chicago metropolitan area. We support this initiative and hope you will too. See who gets awarded this year on 11/13/2014.
7. KIPP Chicago Schools KIPP Talk (Spring 2015 )          KIPP Chicago

MIB has been a big supporter of KIPP for some time. We appreciate their mission;  To create a network of schools that empower students with the character and academic skills necessary to succeed in top-quality high schools and universities, to be happy in the competitive world, and to have a positive impact on their communities.

8. Chicago High School for the Arts Kerfuffle (5/2015)

Kerfuffle! is ChiArts’ annual fundraising event featuring performances and exhibitions by Scholar-Artists from the Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts conservatories at ChiArts . The evening will feature four “Arts Partner All-Stars” representing some of the 72 Chicago arts institutions that partner with ChiArts as well as a reception with a strolling Cabaret Dinner.

Please also take a look at the first in this series; Part 1; MIB 2013 Philanthropy Award Winners. 

Everybody Wins With A Better Chicago’s Project Impact


Pictured (L-R): Liam Krehbiel (A Better Chicago Founder), David Jacobson, Thomas Elden, Imran Khan (Executive Director, EMBARC), Desiree Rogers, Gillian Darlow, Matt Ferguson, Kate Attea (Managing Director of A Better Chicago).

On Thursday, November 7, EMBARC – which stands for Empowering Minds, Building Achievement and Reconnecting Communities – won the second-annual Project Impact competition held by venture philanthropy fund A Better Chicago. The event included four nonprofit finalists giving dramatic TED Talk style presentations and answering questions from high profile judges in front of an audience of 250, including me.

EMBARC receives a $100,000 grant and twelve months of management support from A Better Chicago to help scale its program beyond the 200 Harper High School students it currently serves. The other nonprofit finalists – Intrinsic Schools, New Classrooms and Project SYNCERE – each receive $20,000 from A Better Chicago too.

Really though, everyone wins because of the affirming culture created by the competition. Chicago abounds with innovative, commited individuals determined to improve education and other opportunities for poor urban youth. Project Impact highlights this and provides rocket fuel support for early stage nonprofits already demonstrating effective practices.

Founded in 2010 by teachers at Harper High School in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood, EMBARC immerses students in social and cultural enrichment experiences and provides career development, life skills and academic support services, in order to improve academic achievement. With this well rounded approach, EMBARC aspires to increase its 200 participants’ standardized test scores, grades, graduation rates, and college enrollment rates, among other positive outcomes. The $100,000 and volunteer management consulting prize should allow EMBARC to grow elsewhere in Chicago too.

The panel of judges included Gillian Darlow, Chief Executive Officer of the Polk Bros. Foundation; Thomas Elden, Chief Executive Officer of Origami Capital Partners; Matt Ferguson, Chief Executive Officer of CareerBuilder; David Jacobson, Vice Chairman of BMO Financial Group; Timothy Knowles, John Dewey Director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute; and Desiree Rogers, Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Publishing Company.

This panel of rising business stars, as well as A Better Chicago’s committed board and impressive, engaged audience members also showcase real commitment to improvement and the impact that A Better Chicago already has.

Make It Better is proud to be a media sponsor of A Better Chicago’s venture philanthropy work.

7. Project Impact finals event Judges, Desiree Rogers and Thomas Elden

11. Project Impact finals eventImran Khan delivers a presentation.

Liam Krehbiel Scores 100% With A Better Chicago

Social Entrepreneur Liam Krehbiel Scores 100% With
A Better Chicago
Venture Philanthropy Fund

It takes vision and courage to launch a new entrepreneurial concept in the business or philanthropic worlds. Liam Krehbiel’s got it – inherited from his ancestors who built Molex Corporation from a plastic invention. But he’s more interested in counting lives made better than items sold.

With auction help from life long friends Leslie Hindman and Trish Rooney, his venture philanthropy fund, A Better Chicago, scored a great success last night at it’s first gala. 100% of the funds raised by the 400 guests and the auction of unique travel experiences went directly to the mission – of funding the most effective nonprofits in Chicago.

Smart With Heart Women, Like Kate Attea and You

Harvard MBA and venture philanthropy expert Kate Attea is perfectly poised to do the most good in the Chicago while juggling all the balls of a mother with 4 young children.

She’s a “smart with heart” Wilmette woman working part time for the venture philanthropy nonprofit, A Better Chicago.

Kate Attea

See the Make It Better article here.

Kate describes her work at A Better Chicago as “supporting cradle to career best practices.”

Cradle to career best practices — isn’t that what every mother works hard to accomplish for her own kids and others too?

We can all learn from Kate, and we would love to do so because she is just as lovely to talk to and be with as she looks in this photo.

Go Kate! Go mothers!

Harry Winston’s Hope Bracelet Benefitting “A Better Chicago” – Only 2 Left!

Recommended: A “Hope Collection Bracelet” by Harry Winston – the perfect present to someone you love and to strategically make life better for others.

The Hope Bracelet

Learn more about the bracelet here:

100% of the proceeds benefit “A Better Chicago,” the brilliant venture philanthropy brainchild of Liam Krehbiel.

Liam Krehbiel in Michigan Avenue Magazine. More at

Learn more about “A Better Chicago” here:

But hurry – because there are only 2 bracelets left in Chicago of the original 25.  That’s probably thanks to the great work of Diana Hall.  She understands win/win/win, luxury, giving back with heart, strategic vision and Chicago’s unique culture of civic support for philanthropy that builds a better Chicago:

Diana Hall