Chicago’s Noble, LEARN charter schools receive $23 million in donations from MacKenzie Scott

In Noble’s case, the grant is the “largest unrestricted donation from a single individual” in the charter network’s history.

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Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is sending $25 million to Chicago’s public school system.

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is helping two Chicago charter school networks with her latest donations.

Evan Agostini/AP

Two Chicago charter school operators are receiving multimillion-dollar donations from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The Noble and LEARN networks announced Monday that they received a total of $23 million to boost educational programming for their combined 16,000 students.

The city’s largest charter operator, Noble, enrolls 12,000 students across 18 campuses. Officials there said Scott’s $16 million donation to their program is the “largest unrestricted donation from a single individual in Noble’s history.”

“Her investment in our students will help fuel Noble’s mission as we strive to become an antiracist organization that unapologetically prepares students from underserved communities to complete college and lead choice-filled lives,” Noble CEO Constance Jones said in a statement Monday.

“We are committed to building schools that center and affirm our Black and Brown students and fuel their highest aspirations,” she said.

Noble has long celebrated its graduation and college acceptance rates — 94% of the networks’ 2022 graduates were accepted into college with $505 million in scholarships and grants, officials said. The network also offers post-graduation support with an office dedicated to alumni outreach.

LEARN serves 4,000 students at 11 college preparatory elementary and middle schools, seven of them in Chicago and the rest in North Chicago, Waukegan and Washington, D.C.

“This gift will deepen our impact by making our program even stronger as we deliver exceptional learning experiences for our scholars,” LEARN CEO Greg White said in a statement.

Network officials said the $7 million donation will help LEARN students attend and graduate college by boosting math and science programming, supporting educators with professional development and enhancing social-emotional learning programming.

Noble and LEARN operate publicly funded, privately managed charter schools that are tuition-free.

Scott, whose ex-husband is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has given away more than $12 billion of her fortune in only three years, gaining global praise for her philanthropic work.

This is far from her first donation to education-focused Chicago groups.

Scott recently donated $8 million to the Chicago nonprofit Access Living, which provides services to people with disabilities and has an education-focused office. She has also given $4 million to Communities in Schools of Chicago, one of the city’s largest education nonprofits that supports more than 50,000 CPS students; and Community Organizing and Family Issues, a parental advocacy group, got $2 million.

Other Chicago-area beneficiaries have included $6.6 million to the Chicago Urban League and $4.2 million to a Chicago-area Girl Scouts council.

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