Former McDonald’s CEO seeks $100M to help Black educators

This Crain’s Chicago Business article features the CAFÉ’s newest initiative, The 1954 Project. Named for the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the school segregation case Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Project’s goal is to raise $100 million through philanthropy to support Black educators and education leaders nationally over the next five years.

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Black Americans donate a higher share of their wealth than Whites

By: Michelle Singletary

This article titled, “Black Americans donate a higher share of their wealth than Whites,” outlines how Black Americans give a larger share of their wealth to charities than any other racial group in America. It also highlights a joint 2012 study from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which found that communities of color are giving at an increasing rate. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Black households donate to community-based organizations and causes, to the tune of $11 billion each year, with Black households on average giving away 25 percent more of their income per year than Whites.

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Investing in the Genius of Black Educators

By: Melinda Wright

The 1954 Project aims to realize the unkept promise of Brown v. Board of Education

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. But the full promise of the Brown v. Board of Education decision was never realized. Not only does segregation continue in public schools, Black teachers, school leaders and students were left on the margins of the education system that developed in its wake. Even now, they remain marginalized.

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Challenge to Chicago’s business leaders: Open your doors

Internships, partnerships and networking are keys to providing students with exposure, access and equality.

We’re all familiar with the expression, “If you build it, they will come.”

So it’s not surprising that many people view opportunity through a similar lens: If opportunity presents itself, success will come.

It should be troubling to all of us that this opportunity is not present for all students. In fact, for many black and Latino students in Chicago Public Schools, an “opportunity gap” is prevalent, despite the fact that CPS has recently seen unprecedented successes for a large urban school district.

But CPS can’t do it alone. Businesses will not thrive if our collective citizenry does not thrive.

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Liz is Honored as a Leadership Sponsor at the Chicago Child Care Society 2019 Luncheon

Join us in helping children and youth of Chicago build their dreams!

From humble beginnings in 1849 as an orphanage, the history of CCCS has paralleled the history of our city and country, of societal changes and challenges, always growing in response to the needs of children and families.

In 2019, we celebrate 170 years serving Chicagoland.  We are building our future, expanding services in early childhood education, youth development and stabilizing families in need with our Spring Dream Builders Luncheon.

Join Honoree John Rogers, Honorary Chair Barbara Bowman and our Visionary Sponsors Abbott, Ariel Investments and Judith S. Block. 
See you on May 7th!

CHICAGO CHILD CARE SOCIETY IS GRATEFUL FOR THE SUPPORTERS WHO MAKE THE WORK WE DO POSSIBLE.

Visionary Sponsor: Abbott, Ariel Investments and Judith S. Block 

Leadership Sponsors:Exelon, Marsh, Parsons, Perlman, RSM US LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, The Northern Trust Company

Advocate Sponsor: Dara Munson, DeLuca, Herring, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago

Humanitarian Sponsor: Beth Michaels

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Chicago Scholars 35 under 35: Dawn Frances Reese

In addition to receiving Chicago Crain’s prestigious 40 under 40 honor, Dawn Frances advances the mission of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education to support and mentor underserved Chicago students & professionals by investing in organizations focused on college access and career success. Dawn Frances brings vast career experience spanning start-ups in advocacy, venture capital, and higher education focused on organizational advancement and strategic investments. Before moving to Chicago in 2012, Dawn Frances led and then sold her family’s real-estate investment firm in Mobile, Alabama.

Most recently, she was the Associate Director for Advancement for Urban Labs at the University of Chicago, with a focus on improving lives in the five key areas of Education, Crime, Poverty, Health, and Energy & Environment. Before joining Urban Labs, Dawn was Senior Associate of Business Development working with the Clean Energy Trust, an accelerator focused on early stage clean energy businesses in the Midwest.

Dawn Frances sits on the board of City Year Chicago and the Development Leadership Consortium. She is a 2019 Chicago Urban League IMPACT fellow and a 2016 Development Leadership Consortium fellow. She previously served on Chicago Foundation for Women’s grant making committee, the Young Women’s Giving Council, and the foundation’s Civic Agenda Committee. She is a former member of the Chicago Women in Philanthropy and has lived and volunteered in Cape Town, SA.

Dawn Frances enjoys trying new eateries on the Chicago restaurant scene and random cook offs with her friends.


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Crain’s 40 under 40: Dawn Frances Reese

Dawn Frances Reese met Liz Thompson in 2014, just as Thompson, the wife of former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, had settled on creating a family foundation focused on education. By the time the foundation was ready to begin working in earnest in summer 2017, Thompson tapped Reese to lead its day-to-day operations—even though Reese had devoted most of her career to fundraising, not leadership. 

Reese, a graduate of Auburn University and a native of Mobile, Ala., quickly proved to be a natural in her new role, in which she not only directs the foundation’s support of city nonprofits (as well as the charitable work connected to Don Thompson’s food-and-beverage-focused venture-capital firm, Cleveland Avenue) but also has spearheaded unique programming such as an internship program geared toward preparing minority students for career success. (This interview has been condensed and edited.)

CRAIN’S: How did your fundraising skills translate to this very different job of working out the mission and operation of a family foundation? 

REESE: The first thing I did was listen to what they wanted. I heard the Thompsons’ stories about how they got to where they are today, and it had a lot to do with college and having access to opportunities that they wouldn’t have had unless someone stepped in and said, “Let me help.” So our foundation is built around making sure that students and young professionals have the resources they need to pursue meaningful careers.

Was it important that the mission also connect with your own beliefs and sense of mission?

Absolutely. It ties into my own story in that my mother was an educator. I saw that the combination of great teachers, great principals and the right resources can really change your life. Also, some of my relatives had a very different high school experience than I did, and in hindsight it’s clear that they just did not have the same support. It’s a primary reason their lives have taken very different paths than mine.

This foundation seems unique in that you’re creating some of your own programming, rather than only supporting existing nonprofits. How did you settle on that approach? 

Research has suggested that one key to career success for brown and black students is having a high-quality internship. We didn’t see an internship program out there that looked like what we had in mind, so we decided to pilot our own in-house this past year with eight people at Cleveland Avenue.

What makes your program different?

We provided the interns with access to senior leaders in every area of the operation, we took them through networking courses, and we worked on social and emotional intelligence—things you never get at traditional internships where you just file papers and answer the phones.


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Liz Thompson chosen as 2018 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow

Pahara and Aspen Institutes Announce New Class of Leaders for Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship

SAN FRANCISCO (October 25, 2018) – The Pahara Institute, together with the Aspen Institute, announced today the Fall 2018 cohort of the highly selective Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship. These 25 leaders join a network of diverse and talented leaders who are reimagining America’s public schools.

“In order to make sure all of our children have access to the skills, knowledge and mindsets they need to thrive, we must have transformative education leaders working together towards this ambitious goal,” said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute Founder and CEO. “We are thrilled to welcome this group of bold, innovative, and courageous leaders to the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, where they will engage together in deep and meaningful dialogue, create a diverse learning community, and strengthen their ability to lead across difference and towards ‘third-way’ solutions.”

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