|LEAP CEO Phyllis Lockett chats with Gov. Rauner, venture capitalist Howard Tullman, and French Ambassador Gerard Araud.|
Chicago is having trouble meeting next month's teachers payroll but that doesn't mean there aren't big profits to be made and consulting contracts to be handed out to company's with CPS ties.
THE LATEST...The Gates Foundation just awarded $5 million more to Phyllis Lockett's tech consulting group, Leap Innovations. I know, $5 million is a small piece of change for the world's richest man. But don't worry about Leap. They are getting plenty more from CPS contracts and from the likes of The Chicago Public Education Fund, Northern Trust, and the Joyce Foundation.
Leap is another of those education tech start-ups bellying up to the CPS trough. This one is run by Lockett, the former President and CEO of New Schools for Chicago, the group running charter school expansion is the city. While in the employ of CPS, Lockett was mainly a pitch woman for ed-tech companies.
Even though Leap just got started a year ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is already crediting the company with Chicago's miraculous school turnaround.
“In 1987, then Secretary of Education Bill Bennett called Chicago’s public schools the worst in the nation,” said Rahm. “Today, I am proud to say we are leading the country in education innovation. Thanks in large part to LEAP Innovations.”But the last we saw of Lockett, she was standing with a group of so-called “Democrats and Independents for Rauner”.
Sitting on Leap's board as you might have guessed, some of Chicago's richest and most powerful of the LaSalle St. crowd including, Michael Alter, president of the Alter Group; Leo Melamed, chairman emeritus of CME Group; John Rowe, chairman emeritus of Exelon; and Timothy Schwertfeger, chairman emeritus of Nuveen Investments.
Former LEAP Board Chair Mark Furlong, retired CEO of BMO Harris Bank was just appointed by the mayor to sit on the school board. And so it goes.
A year ago, when LEAP was started, Melamed, whose CME Group runs the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, noted that it only took his organization 4 minutes to commit the $1 million to support LEAP.
Lockett claims Leap will "analyze education software and pair it with the needs of educators". Translation -- LEAP will be a conduit for tech companies competing for public school business.
According the Crain's:
“The grant will go toward Leap advising other cities to replicate and scale our model and will allow us to serve more schools in the Chicago area.” The organization operates in 15 Chicago schools, and Locket hopes to see that grow to 100 schools in the next five years.Note to all you grant writers: replicate and scale are the magic words to Bill Gates' ears. Oh, did I mention, 21st Century learning?