Chicago Public Schools is receiving a $25 million donation from MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist who earlier this week gave $23 million to two Chicago charter school networks.
The “very generous donation will most certainly help change lives,” CPS spokeswoman Mary Fergus said after the district recently learned of the expected grant.
“We are honored and extremely grateful that Ms. Scott has recognized the hard work of our teachers, principals and entire staff on behalf of more than 320,000 Chicago children,” Fergus said in a statement.
“District officials will be working to invest these funds in some of the priorities outlined in our developing blueprint as we move forward with our academic recovery efforts and vision for a rigorous, equitable and supportive learning experience for all CPS students,” she said.
CPS has a $9.4 billion budget this year, meaning the $25 million will help some programs but not make a big dent in the district’s funding shortfall.
For a more permanent fix, district officials, board members, the teachers union and other advocates all agree more state and federal funding is needed with CPS facing a potential budget shortfall of $600 million in a few years. By the state’s own metrics, CPS receives about two-thirds of the amount of funding it needs to adequately serve its students’ needs.
Scott’s donations are likely to have a greater impact at the Noble and LEARN charter school networks, which received $16 million and $7 million, respectively.
The publicly funded, privately run schools are part of the CPS system and serve a total of 16,000 students across 23 Chicago campuses. LEARN operates more schools in the northern suburbs and Washington, D.C.
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.
She has recently donated millions to the Chicago disability services nonprofit Access Living, education nonprofit Communities in Schools of Chicago and parent advocacy group Community Organizing and Family Issues.