Anne and Kenneth Griffin announced today that they have donated $10 million to fund a multi-year initiative to identify programs and strategies for improving student education in America's schools. The Griffin Foundation contribution, which is through the University of Chicago and Harvard University, will partner the world's preeminent education scholars with teachers, parents and students in an innovative, metrics-based program in Chicago Heights, Ill.
Research generated from this initiative has the ability to impact education from pre-school through high school graduation, and improve student outcomes for millions of American children. To create and lead this program, the Griffins have brought together world-renowned scholars from the University of Chicago and Harvard University. Leading the program are: John List, Professor of Economics, and Steven Levitt, William B. OgdenDistinguished Service Professor of Economics, both with the University of Chicago; and Roland Fryer, Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics and Faculty Director of the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University.
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education and a former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, has worked extensively with the Griffins in their efforts to support and improve public education: "Preparing our students to compete in a global economy is a tremendous challenge which will require tremendous partners," said Secretary Duncan. "The Griffin Foundation is bringing many of these partners together on a local level to identify best practices and programs in education."
The Griffin Early Childhood Center will be established for up to 250 pre-school students from Chicago Heights. Students will be admitted through a lottery system and will attend the school at no cost.
Up to 400 parents of pre-school-aged children not chosen for the in-classroom program will be eligible for short- or long-term financial incentives which are directly related to their involvement in their child's education and development. Elements of the program include attendance at monthly meetings that focus on best-parentingpractices and child development, completion of parent-child homework exercises and participation in school-affiliated health and wellness programs. Incentives will include monthly payments as well as the establishment of college investment funds.
Each program will track and assess the academic success of participating students through the time of their high school graduation, in an effort to measure which early approaches have the most impact and provide the greatest benefit. This research will provide measurable data to help understand how different approaches impact future academic success.
"We are committed to innovative education initiatives that help us learn how we as a country can better educate and serve our children," said Kenneth Griffin, who leads The Griffin Foundation with his wife, Anne. "By working closely with the Chicago Heights School District and a preeminent team of scholars, we have an opportunity to positively impact relationships between parents, students and educators, and gain valuable knowledge that can impact education on a national scale."
"We are very fortunate to bring together a dedicated team of scholars and educators who share our commitment to improving education," said Anne Dias Griffin. "Our hope is that this highly collaborative initiative will lead to tangible benefits for students in Chicago Heights and beyond."
The Griffin Foundation investment will also support ground-breaking research to improve K-12 education, including teacher incentives tied to student performance, and incentives for academic mentoring between students. The research will assess the effectiveness of teacher pay-for-performance plans in furthering student achievement.
"While there are a number of important efforts to support early childhood education, this program is unique because it provides a flexible environment in which to build a knowledge-base of the critical elements that children need in early education for short and long-term success," said Professor List of the University of Chicago. "The program will focus on creating the best learning environment, understanding the important role that parents play in student success and exploring the effectiveness of teacher pay-for-performance plans."
Professor Fryer of Harvard University said, "In order to best serve the next generation and help guide the enormous resources invested in early childhood education, we must identify what practices and programs work best and why. Gathering measurable, actionable insight is our goal with this innovative program."
Following an in-depth evaluation of various sites throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, Chicago Heights was chosen as providing the ideal location for the initiative, on the basis of Chicago Heights' need for a high-quality pre-school facility and diverse demographics as well as strong support in the community for educational reform initiatives. The Griffin Early Childhood Center will be located at both Highland School and Washington-McKinley Elementary School. The faculty will be composed of existing teachers from the Chicago Heights School District and new hires.
"We are incredibly excited and thankful for this opportunity, which will benefit both our school district and the Chicago Heights community by broadening educational opportunities for our students," said Mr. Tom Amadio, Superintendent of the Chicago Heights School District. "We look forward to working closely with The Griffin Foundation as well as with Professors John List, Steven Levitt and Roland Fryer and their teams in finding tangible ways to close the achievement gap."
The programs are expected officially to launch in September 2010.
About The Griffin Foundation
The Griffin Foundation was established in 2009 by Anne and Kenneth Griffin. Leaders in the global financial community, Mr. Griffin is the founder of Citadel and Mrs. Griffin is the founder of Aragon Capital Management, both headquartered in Chicago. The Griffin Foundation is a non-profit organization that builds on the Griffins' past philanthropic investments, with a focus on education, science and the arts. The Griffin Foundation creates and funds innovative programs with an emphasis on attempting to find solutions to society's greatest challenges. Min Lee serves as Director of The Griffin Foundation.