Pritzker philanthropy often makes headlines around Chicago, and the particular Pritzker to know depends on what industry you’re in. Penny Pritzker, for example is the one to know for health, fitness, and obesity funding. J.B. Pritzker, on the other hand, is the name to know if you’re involved in early education.
J.B. Pritzker just kicked in another $25 million for early education programming, which will have an impact on both the local and national scenes. He and his wife joined President Barack Obama for the White House Summit on Early Education to announce the new $1 billion investment program. Other funding heavy hitters, including the Lego Foundation, Sesame Workshop, and Warren Buffet’s daughter, have also made multi-million dollar commitments to the program.
“Early childhood development is an arena that's long been overlooked by philanthropy and government. Even programs as large as Head Start cover a very small sliver of the population of at-risk kids. It's an arena attractive for a private philanthropist like me because I see it as a terrific investment,” J.B. Pritzker said in a telephone briefing.
J.B. has been one of the leading philanthropists in early childhood development for quite some time, now. He created the Children’s Initiative, which funds research and programing for poverty-stricken children. He’s also one of the founding supporters of the First Five Years Fund, which is a national organization dedicated to early care and learning programs. The Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago attracts experts in the field to figure out how child intervention programs can be most influential.
Locally based early education nonprofits, including Chicago’s Ounce of Prevention, stand to benefit from Pritzker’s recent show of support. Pritzker has kept a significant portion of his early education money local in recent years. Earlier this year, he and his wife invested $4 million in a Chicago-focused finance program to expand pre-K programs for over 2,000 low income students over four years. However, this massive $1 billion initiative has a broad nationwide focus to fill the gaps of government funding.
“I find the early childhood development arena extraordinarily compelling partly because, as a business person, these investments in kids, particularly very young children, have enormous payoffs for society," Pritzker told Crain’s Business Chicago.
Learn more about J.B. Pritzker’s role in local and national philanthropy by browsing his website, www.jb-pritzker.com.