This Chicago Power Couple is Deep into Charters

Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert didn't make our recent list of top power couples in philanthropy, but they're definitely a force to be reckoned with on Chicago's giving scene.

Pritzker is worth $2.4 billion and is currently the U.S. Commerce Secretary. Her husband Bryan, meanwhile, is an ophthalmologist and a nationally renowned medical expert. The couple formed the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation (PTFF) in 2000 and are among Chicago's leading philanthropists. 

What has PTFF been up to in recent years? Well, it's deep into fighting child obesity but it also has plenty of cards on the table in the Chicago-area charter school fight. Here are a few things you need to know about this regional funder's footprint in education.

1. Boards, Boards and More Boards

A good sign of a funder's commitment and interest in an area is board membership. Pritzker and Traubert have certainly sat on a bunch of educational boards. Traubert's history includes being former chairman ofNoble Network of Charter Schools and former chair of Marwen, a visual arts advocacy outfit. Pritzker has served as chair of Chicago Public Education Fund, a unique organization which raises equity to invest in public schools. Unsurprsingly, all of these groups have received a steady stream of funding. They've also tended to receive some of the foundation's largest sums of money. For instance, Noble Network of Charter Schools received $700,000 between 2011 and 2012. 

2. Other charters have received smaller, but steady money

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, the Academy for Urban Leadership, City Year Chicago (and recently the national Boston-based City Year), Perspectives Charter Schools and Teach for America have all received smaller but consistent grants from the foundation. These gifts have generally been in the tens of thousands of dollars.

3. When it comes to education, the foundation isn't just interested in charters 

Between grants to fund the construction of athletic fields in Chicago's parks, youth running programs and funding programs like Metrosquash, BuildOn, the National Association for Urban Debate League, the foundation is committed to a wide variety of education causes.  If an organization finds a way of using sports and fitness in service of education, all the better.