Mackenzie Scott donates $7 million to Chicago’s learn charter school network

by Samantha Jacobs 

November 8, 2022

Transformational gift will boost LEARN’s efforts to help 4,000 scholars prepare for and graduate from college


CHICAGO — The MacKenzie Scott Foundation has made a $7 million donation to LEARN Charter School, a network of 11 high-performing college prep public elementary and middle schools in Chicago, North Chicago, Waukegan and Washington, D.C. This gift honors 20 years of LEARN positively impacting some of the nation’s most challenged and underserved communities. LEARN educates over 4,000 students, 89% of whom are African American or Hispanic, and 76% of whom are low income.


“We are deeply grateful to the MacKenzie Scott Foundation for believing in LEARN’s mission to provide our scholars with the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree,” said LEARN President & CEO, Greg White. “This gift will deepen our impact by making our program even stronger as we deliver exceptional learning experiences for our scholars.”


Scott’s investment comes at an exciting time for LEARN, as they are leading a $20 million fundraising campaign to ensure more scholars are prepared for and graduate from college. To date, 31% of LEARN alumni have earned a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of 8th-grade graduation from LEARN, a rate considerably above the national average. LEARN has set a groundbreaking goal of 50% college completion for its alumni.


The gift will be used to support the strategies that will help more LEARN scholars graduate from college. These strategies include boosting LEARN’s math and science programming; supporting LEARN’s teachers and leaders with professional development, recognition programs and career pathways; enhancing LEARN’s robust social-emotional programming; and creating more support for LEARN alumni as they matriculate to and persist in college. 


“Ms. Scott’s gift recognizes the leadership role that LEARN has played in helping children from under-resourced communities get to and through college,” said Nancy Santi, who along with her husband Scott Santi, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of ITW, are chairing LEARN’s 20th Anniversary Fund campaign. “A child’s potential is unlimited, but opportunity is not. By supporting LEARN, our generous donors are making a direct investment in the potential of children from all backgrounds.”


Founded in 2001, LEARN is an innovative network of 11 tuition-free, high-performing college prep public elementary schools open to all students. LEARN currently serves more than 4,000 scholars in Chicago, North Chicago, Waukegan, and Washington, D.C. LEARN’s unique, proven blend of academic rigor and social-emotional support are the formula for LEARN’s success.

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