Gregory A. White “has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for LEARN Charter Schools located in Chicago, Illinois, from 2008 to present. Mr. White is leading an entrepreneurial effort to grow this nationally recognized network of high performing elementary schools from ten serving 4,200 students to sixteen schools serving 8,000 students. Prior to LEARN, Mr. White worked for The Chicago Community Trust (Vice President of Strategy & Operations), Chicago Venture Partners, L.P. (Cofounder & Partner), Salomon Brothers (Bond Salesman), Continental Bank (Real Estate Lender), The Rouse Company (Research Analyst) and the Enterprise Foundation (Assistant Field Officer).”
As of February 2018, White was serving on the board of directors for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. “White also served on the board of directors of Learn Charter School Network, Lakefront Supportive Housing Christ the King High School, and the Chicago Transit Authority Citizens Advisory Board. Mr. White earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and graduated with honors from Brown University.” He graduated from the Broad Academy cohort from 2015 to 2016.
Education Reform & Ties
New Schools for Chicago, former called Renaissance Schools Fund, is privately-backed and works to increase school choice in Chicago, while turning around failing charter schools. It also developed a website aimed at informing parents about the many school choice options in Chicago.
The Charter School Growth Fund is a national nonprofit that makes multi-year investments “in talented education entrepreneurs who are building networks of great charter schools.” The Fund has partnered in this mission with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has promoted school privatization, “de-professionalization” of teachers, and “high-stakes testing.”
The Walton Family Foundation has given millions of dollars to support charter schools throughout the U.S. over the last two decades. In early 2016, the Foundation announced “that it is committing $1 billion over the next five years to help expand charter and other school choice options across the country.”
Ties to Hedge Funds & Investment Firms
In addition to being led by past venture capitalist, Gregory White, LEARN Charter Schools Network has financial ties to other hedge funds. In 2012, New York City hedge fund manager Marc Lasry spoke at the Invest for Kids Conference in Chicago, “which raised $180,000 for the LEARN Charter School Network." The Invest for Kids Conference is “an investment conference” that features “prominent portfolio managers from around the country” who “present their market views and best investment ideas to an audience of portfolio managers, family office professionals, investment advisors, and private investors.” Proceeds of the conference are annually donated to education organizations and schools in the Chicago area.
As of February 2018, Vineeta Raketich, Managing Director of Global Operations & Client Relations for Harris Associates, also served as the vice chairman of the board of directors for the LEARN Charter School Network. Furthermore, the following individuals with ties to the hedge fund and investment industry also served on the President’s Council for LEARN Charter School Network.
- John Canning, Founder and Chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners
- David Helfand, CEO and President of Equity Commonwealth
- David Herro, Partner and Deputy Chairman of Harris Associates
- Paul Purcell, Robert W. Baird & Co.
- Joe Romano, Founder and President of Romano Brothers
Other Notable Donations
In September 2010, Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network issued donations to six charter schools, including $1 million to the LEARN Charter School Network. Winfrey dedicated the episode Oprah where she issued the checks to education reform, featuring Bill Gates and Davis Guggenheim, director of Waiting for Superman.
In December 2016, two of LEARN Charter School Network’s schools were awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education through its Charter School Program in December 2016. Under the program, a total of $2.1 million in two-year federal grants were awarded to LEARN and two other Chicago public charter schools, and these grants were to be administered by the Illinois State Board of Education. Furthermore, in September 2010, LEARN Charter Schools was awarded just over $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education under the same program, as part of a total of $50 million that was awarded to charter schools throughout the U.S.
- FHLBC, Gregory A. White, accessed September 27, 2018.
- The Broad Center, Gregory White, accessed September 27, 2018.
- LEARN Charter School Network, Who We Are, accessed September 27, 2018.
- Sam Barnett, New Schools for Chicago looks to turnaround failing charters, Chicago Reporter, April 25, 2011.
- Mary Jo Madda, How Some Chicagoans Are Unlocking the 'School Choice' Puzzle, Ed Surge, January 11, 2017.
- Charter School Growth Fund, About, accessed September 26, 2018.
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Program Related Investments, accessed September 26, 2018.
- Diane Ravitch Bill Gates: Selling Bad Advice to the Public Schools, May 23, 2011.
- Valerie Strauss, The ‘Walmartization’ of public education Washington Post, March 17, 2016.
- Doug Martin, Hillary’s Hedge Fund Fundraiser Was Chelsea’s Boss, Hoosier School Heist, July 22, 2015.
- Invest for Kids, The IFK Report, 2016.
- LEARN Charter School Network, Board of Directors, accessed September 26, 2018.
- Harris Associates, About Us, accessed September 27, 2018.
- LEARN Charter School Network, President's Council, accessed September 27, 2018.
- Huffington Post, Oprah Donates $1 Million To Chicago’s LEARN Charter School Network, September 21, 2010.
- LEARN Charter School Network, LEARN Wins Federal Grant Totaling $2.1M, December 23, 2016.
- National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Alliance Statement on U.S. Department of Education Awarding $50 Million to Support Charter Growth and Replication, September 23, 2010.