Linking Resources to Results: The Chicago Public Education Fund’s Master Teacher Initiative

Grantmakers for Education



Case Study Sector


The Chicago (Illinois) Public Education Fund operates as a venture philanthropy: It raises capital from individual and institutional donors and then provides grant funding and direct, hands-on assistance to grantees. With a grantmaking budget totaling $25 million between 2000 and 2008, it seeks to recruit and develop high-potential new teachers and aspiring principals by supporting alternative certification and mentoring programs, such as Teach for America and New Leaders for New Schools. This case study focuses specifically on the fund’s effort to nurture and strategically utilize existing teacher talent—its Master Teacher Initiative.
As part of the Master Teacher Initiative, the Education Fund has worked since 2000 both to recognize accomplished and effective teachers through the prestigious national board certification process and to help these teachers become school reform leaders. This case study explores the fund’s deliberate approach—including specific goals, a clearly articulated grantmaking strategy, and benchmarks for measuring progress—to help Chicago’s public schools recognize, reward, and deploy master teachers.
This case study is intended to help grantmakers see ways to more deliberately link their resources to desired results, which is one of Grantmakers for Education’s Principles for Effective Education Grantmaking. The case illustrates the importance of making explicit assumptions about how a funder’s efforts will create change, specifying measurable outcomes, deploying a funder’s resources in addition to money, and being realistic about what can be accomplished under the best of circumstances.



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