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Civic group unveils plan to help schools

Updated: July 21, 2012 6:33AM

Members of a civic group Tuesday unveiled a plan to raise $10 million to come up with new ways to improve city schools but were warned by their guest speaker to “get ready for massive failure.’’

Bruce Rauner, chairman of GTCR Golder Rauner and a key force behind the state’s latest education reform bill, spoke of the frustration of trying to make a dent in the education landscape in his address to Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Emerging Leaders Class of 2010. The group, which was selected by the council, is composed of 20 midcareer professionals who are exploring ways to improve education.

Rauner, an investor in Wrapports LLC, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times, warned the group that the “school improvement wars’’ was an important struggle but also was “ugly, dirty” and “not fun.’’ He said he provided $20 million to help with education reform and 80 percent of it was “wasted.’’

Members of the Class of 2010 had just revealed that, after two years of research, they decided to raise $10 million to create ELP Venture, a “venture philanthropy fund,” to help Chicago target innovations in “global competence” and “school leadership.’’

Their idea was driven by what class members called “alarming” educational results that plague both Chicago Public Schools and the nation as a whole.

The group hopes to receive hundreds of ideas, select 20 to 30 to fund at $50,000 to $250,000 each, and emerge with two to three winners that will “move the needle.’’ Rather than focus on proven reforms, the group hopes to develop “the new, yet-to-be-proven reform,’’ said class member Gillian Darlow, a principal at Civic Consulting Alliance.   

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