The Gift That Still Gives
Q.Why have you targeted pre-K through 12th-grade leadership with your philanthropy?
My late wife, Carolyn, and I were greatly concerned by the enormous quality gap between preschool and undergraduate-level education. Our country has world-class colleges and universities, but there are more than 45 million children in our public elementary and high schools today, and only half are getting a decent education.
The vast majority of these students receiving a poor education are from urban settings. Carolyn and I both went to public schools and received excellent educations. Carolyn’s father was a teacher, principal, and superintendent of public schools. Public school leaders are talented, passionate individuals, but the poor support, inadequate resources, and lack of guidance they receive set them up for failure.
Q.What do you consider to be the signature achievement of the Lynch Leadership Academy (LLA)?
We believe that quality public education is a critical civil right. We cannot guarantee that civil right to all children unless we improve the capabilities of school leaders.
In the first eight years of the academy, we have mentored 171 leaders across three sectors—59 percent district, 18 percent parochial, 23 percent charter—who are responsible for 70,000-plus students in under-resourced communities. Five sitting superintendents in the Greater Boston area are alums of the program.
Since 1988, LLA has supported more than 80 organizations that help disadvantaged young people, and our foundation is in the top 5 percent of all these highly efficient organizations.
Q.How can the Leadership Academy fulfill Ignatius of Loyola’s call to “go and set the world aflame?”
We have a critical shortage of school leaders, and many will retire over the next two to 10 years. The LLA has committed to creating a leadership pipeline—35 percent of all the principals trained by the academy have been aspiring principals who have now taken on leadership roles—and LLA alumni are outstanding principals. What we are doing works, but it must be executed with precision.
Training and supporting high-performing principals is not just a Massachusetts solution; it should be replicated across the country in cities such as St. Louis, Miami, Cleveland, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and dozens of other places.
The Lynch School of Education and Human Development and the Carroll School of Management gave us the ability to prove the concept, and every grant has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of students in areas of greatest economic need.