Non-profit

A Better Chicago

Location:

Chicago, IL

Formation:

2011

President:

Doug Scott

A Better Chicago (ABC) is a venture philanthropy group, organized as a charitable non-profit, that currently maintains a portfolio of eleven Chicago area youth and education organizations. According to its 2017 disclosures, ABC had an annual budget of over $3.5 million. [1]

ABC was founded in 2010 by Liam Krehbiel, heir to the Molex fortune. ABC selects organizations to fund based on return on investment analysis, so as to only grant funds to financially sound organizations. [2] Current grants range from $4.46 million for OneGoal to $100,000 for PitchIn, a program of the Wood Family Foundation. [3] In 2018, grants for SAGA Innovations and Reading in Motion were discontinued due to lack of sustainable growth. [4]

Corporate Partners

ABC is currently supported by two strategic partners, who offer discounted and pro bono services to ABC and its grantees. [5]

The management consulting firm Bain and Company assists grantees with growth strategies and other business challenges. [6]

The law firm of Lathan and Watkins LLP offers pro bono legal and strategic counsel to both ABC and its grantees. [7]

Activities

A Better Chicago takes donations from individuals and charitable organizations, including the donor-advised Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund,[8] and the left-leaning John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,[9] and invests them into a portfolio of grantees, currently 11 “high performing” educational programs in the Chicago area. [10]

People

A Better Chicago president Doug Scott is a former partner at the New Teacher Project, and formerly worked at McKinsey and Company, an international management consulting firm. [11]

Beth Swanson became the CEO of A Better Chicago in May 2019. She is the former vice president of strategy and program at the Joyce Foundation, [12] a Chicago based nonprofit that finances advocacy for liberal education policy. [13] Swanson is also the former deputy for education to former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D). [14]

Board of Directors

Sean Berkowitz is a partner with Lathan and Watkins, and was the director of the Department of Justice’s Enron task force. [15]

Michael Collins is the CFO of ABC’s corporate partner Bain and Company. [16]

Bill Conway is currently running for Cook County State’s Attorney against incumbent Kim Foxx (D) in the Democratic primary. He is running on a platform of criminal justice reform and support for gun control. [17]

Chris Keogh is the managing director at Goldman Sachs.

Timothy Knowles is founder of the Academy Group, and former Director of the University of Chicago Urban Labs. Knowles established the Urban Education Institute, served as the Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, and was the founding director of Teach for America in New York. [18]

Liam Krehbiel is the founder of A Better Chicago, the group’s former CEO, and the current chairman of the board. [19] He is the heir to the Molex electronics company fortune, and used his wealth to apply the principles of venture investing to philanthropy. [20] He previously worked at Bain and Company, a management consulting firm, and one of ABC’s two corporate partners. [21]

Trisha Rooney was the Assistant Finance Director for Bill Clinton’s Illinois campaign from 1992-1993. [22]

Tracy Schwartz-Ward is a former investment banker with Goldman Sachs, and has formerly worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. [23]

Timothy Schwertfeger serves on the boards of the Chicago Public Education Fund, Chicago United, Clean Energy Trust, and Leadership for Quality Education, among others. [24]

References

  1. Newton, Derek. “What’s Next for a Venture Philanthropy Fund that is Laser-Focused on Chicago?” Inside Philanthropy, September 11, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/9/11/whats-next-for-a-venture-philanthropy-fund-thats-laser-focused-on-chicago. ^
  2. “Philanthropist Changemaker: Spotlight on Liam Krehbiel.” Northern Trust. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://wealth.northerntrust.com/archive/philanthropist-changemaker-spotlight-on-liam-krehbiel/. ^
  3. “Our Grantees.” A Better Chicago, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.abetterchicago.org/grantees.

    https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/9/11/whats-next-for-a-venture-philanthropy-fund-thats-laser-focused-on-chicago ^

  4. “Investor Report.” A Better Chicago, December 2018. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.abetterchicago.org/wp-content/uploads/ABC_InvestorReport_2018-19_FINAL.pdf. ^
  5. “Strategic Partners.” A Better Chicago, 2019. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.abetterchicago.org/partners. ^
  6. “Strategic Partners.” A Better Chicago, 2019. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.abetterchicago.org/partners. ^
  7. “Strategic Partners.” A Better Chicago, 2019. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.abetterchicago.org/partners. ^
  8. Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund, Return of Organization (Form 990), 2017, Part II. ^
  9. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2014, Part XV Line 3a. ^
  10. ^
  11. “Staff.” A Better Chicago, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.abetterchicago.org/staff. ^
  12. Newton, Derek. “What’s Next for a Venture Philanthropy Fund that is Laser-Focused on Chicago?” Inside Philanthropy, September 11, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/9/11/whats-next-for-a-venture-philanthropy-fund-thats-laser-focused-on-chicago. ^
  13. “Education and Economic Mobility.” The Joyce Foundation. Accessed October 1, 2019. http://www.joycefdn.org/programs/education-economic. ^
  14. Newton, Derek. “What’s Next for a Venture Philanthropy Fund that is Laser-Focused on Chicago?” Inside Philanthropy, September 11, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/9/11/whats-next-for-a-venture-philanthropy-fund-thats-laser-focused-on-chicago. ^
  15. “Sean Berkowitz.” Latham & Watkins, 2019. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.lw.com/people/sean-berkowitz. ^
  16. “Board of Directors.” A Better Chicago, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.abetterchicago.org/board. ^
  17. Ahern, Mary Ann. “Bill Conway is First to Enter Cook County State’s Attorney Race.” NBC Chicago, August 9, 2019. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/bill-conway-kim-foxx-cook-county-states-attorney-election-528384541.html. ^
  18. “Timothy Knowles.” The University of Chicago. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://harris.uchicago.edu/directory/timothy-knowles. ^
  19. Newton, Derek. “What’s Next for a Venture Philanthropy Fund that is Laser-Focused on Chicago?” Inside Philanthropy, September 11, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/9/11/whats-next-for-a-venture-philanthropy-fund-thats-laser-focused-on-chicago. ^
  20. Newton, Derek. “What’s Next for a Venture Philanthropy Fund that is Laser-Focused on Chicago?” Inside Philanthropy, September 11, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/9/11/whats-next-for-a-venture-philanthropy-fund-thats-laser-focused-on-chicago. ^
  21. Harris, Melissa. “Molex Heir Launches A Better Chicago.” The Chicago Tribune, December 4, 2011. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-xpm-2011-12-04-ct-biz-1204-confidential-20111204-story.html. ^
  22. “Trish Rooney.” LinkedIn. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/trish-rooney-51808476/. ^
  23. “Tracy Schwatz-Ward.” Strand Equity, 2019. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://strandequity.com/tracy. ^
  24. “Tim Schwertfeger.” Clean Energy Trust. Accessed October 28, 2019. http://cleanenergytrust.org/staff-board/tim-schwertfeger/. ^
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A Better Chicago

600 W. Van Buren St. Ste. 510
Chicago, IL