New School Leaders

By | Uncategorized

I’ll be done paying off my doctorate before my master’s because of the Education Equity student funding program

– Gwyenth Kram, PhD, Principal, McCutcheon Elementary, Chicago. Class of 2018, UIC Center for Urban Leadership Program

Gwyn is part of a new breed of principals who lead schools to performance levels that socio-economic status would not predict

 – Steve Tozer, PhD, Director of the Center for Urban Leadership Program and Professor of Education Policy Studies at UIC

Gwyn Kram’s parents modeled a path of service to her and her three older siblings, so it’s no wonder they each quickly found their roles as leaders who help others.

“They authentically care about people,” Gwyn said of her parents. Those who know Gwyn would say the same about her. A recent graduate of UIC’s Urban Leadership Program, Gwyn is the principal of McCutcheon Elementary School in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. A residential community on Chicago’s far north side with Lake Michigan hugging its east boundary and a history richly rooted in the entertainment industry, Uptown remains one of the seriously challenged neighborhoods for its homeless children and families, with its high population of homelessness that seems to almost guarantee failure in the classroom.

Yet Gwyn and her team are tackling those challenges head on, with remarkable results even early in her tenure as principal. She’s quick to note that her assistant principal is her partner, whose teamwork helps ensure progress in order to support their kids. They’re identifying key elements of what is missing in the student’s life that will help the child succeed – in and out of the classroom.

“We want to make sure we service the whole child,” Gwyn said. “My assistant principal and I have been dedicated to finding mental health services because we have a large homeless population. With homelessness often comes mental illness – a lot of the students who have been at three, four, five different schools. I would be upset, angry and confused, too. We have four mental health partners that come in and do counseling within the school during class time.”

This is part of what Gwyn refers to as “intervention services,” with those services extending to a menu of options for McCutcheon’s teachers to customize for their students; options including math and reading from outside sources with whom Gwyn has either strengthened or formed partnerships. And these services are going to any student who needs them, grades K-8, free of charge.

Steve Tozer continues to take interest in what Gwyn’s tackling head-on at McCutcheon. Steve is the director of the Center for Urban Leadership Program and professor of Education Policy Studies at UIC. He has known Gwyn since she entered the UIC leadership program six year ago. This university-based school leader preparation program works in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. Candidates, typically in teacher leader or assistant principal positions, are selected for their promise to develop into effective urban school leaders. As with all students in this UIC program, Gwyn was already on the leadership trajectory when she applied.

“Gwyn met all three important criteria: Strong instructional chops; experience as a teacher leader in her school, and she clearly had the fire in the belly. We thought she was a good bet,” Steve said. “Her performance in the program demonstrated we made a good bet in her case.”

Now having completed two years as principal and graduated from the leadership program, Gwyn – and others – are seeing positive outcomes at McCutcheon.

“We’re interested in her work because one feature of her school is a really difficult feature to overcome — high student mobility,” Steve said. “She had 60% mobility and maintained a 1-plus status in her building. Relationships with parents, students, making sure her curriculum and instruction is still strong despite her high turnover rate. She’s having some real success in the face of that and we’re interested in learning from this.” A level 1-plus status is the topmost rating a school can earn from the Chicago Public School board. Metrics are based on variables including test scores, attendance and student gains.

Initially, Gwyn didn’t decide to pursue her doctorate education at UIC on her own accord. She credits UIC leadership coach Dr. Cynthia Barron, who encouraged her to apply after noticing Gwyn’s work as a project manager for the ISBE school improvement grant. Gwyn wasn’t sure she would be a good fit, even though she had three principals telling her to “go be a leader.” Gwyn applied and Steve recognized her track record as one that would continue to reap success, especially after graduating from the leadership program. “Little did I know it would change the rest of my life,” she said. “The UIC program is exceptional. When you get accepted to UIC, you’re part of a family.”

Paying for her next level of professional education was another important consideration when returning to school. “I didn’t want to take out any more federal loans,” Gwyn said. “Education Equity has funded the whole program, making it possible for me to do it. I’ll be done paying off my doctorate before my master’s because of this student funding program.”

Gwyn also notes that Education Equity, Inc. founder and CEO Andrew A. Davis took note of what was happening with Gwyn and with her school. “Andy invested time, energy and care,” she said.

Steve and Andy aren’t the only ones taking notice of what’s happening at McCutcheon. Community businesses are also rallying around Gwyn’s leadership and investing in their neighborhood students, as evidenced by a spirited fundraiser in an Uptown restaurant just before the end of the school year. The Edgewater Uptown Builders Association had selected McCutcheon as the benefactor for that month’s fundraising event.

Gwyn’s warmth and energy was like a beacon to this full-capacity of parents, building professionals and supporters as she both worked her way through the room and enthusiastically greeted those who approached her. But the real magic that night was at the microphone. While the emcee had a hard time quieting the crowd, it took Gwyn all of under ten seconds as she firmly but politely let guests know that it was time to direct full attention to two of McCutcheon’s students – rising 4th and 8th graders – who were there to tell their stories and express appreciation for those who are investing in their school. The crowd happily complied. That fundraiser netted $40,000 – a record for this group – that will go toward after-school programs and learning outside of the classroom, like field trips.

“Having people outside care about the kids and the community and the teachers is such a big piece,” Gwyn said. “It gives us motivation; keeps us going.”

Gwyn notes that while she’s constantly learning on the job, learning also helps her plan better each year. She credits watching kids grow and develop; creating leaders out of teachers and staff, and getting the resources that her school needs and deserves as the fun parts of her job.

“Gwyn is part of a new breed of principals who lead schools to performance levels that socio-economic status would not predict,” Steve said. “This is particularly germane to McCutcheon school.”

Just days from the end of the school year, Gwyn declares that “this year has become the best,” with no doubt that even better is yet to come.

2018 Quarter 1

By | Quarterly Reports

This winter EEI worked closely with Chicago’s Academy for Urban School Leadership, AUSL, to design a unique and innovative funding plan for residents of AUSL’s Chicago Teacher Residency program, CTR. The Chicago Teacher Residency is a yearlong urban teacher training program that equips residents with the training and skills to impact classrooms. Click Here.

In addition to the scholarships offered by AUSL to the residents, EEI is now offering additional funding that is designed to make the residents participation affordable while providing a superior alternative to traditional student loans. This additional funding has been well received by the residents and has been a useful element for AUSL in recruiting the cohort they seek.

The scale of this program (100 residents per year) is a step up for EEI but one that fits perfectly in our plans for growth. The targeted aspect of this program and the consistent high-quality results make a perfect match for the returns we seek for our students and our investors.
We expect to fund 25 to 30 of the residents for 2018-2019.

EEI also continues to support and recruit other educators in the programs that we have had consistently good results with. These include Columbia Teachers College Summer Principal’s Academy, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Lehigh University’s Urban Principals Academy, and The University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Education’s Urban School Leadership program.

This spring we have one undergraduate earning her degree at UIC and one at Illinois State. These two maintain our record of 100% graduation from Bachelors programs. At the Masters level One will graduate from Harvard GSE, she will continue our perfect record on Masters degree completion. Finally we have our first two Doctor’s degrees. One as a EdD from UIC and One Medical Doctor from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

2017 Quarter 3

By | Quarterly Reports

During the summer of 2017 Education Equity, Inc.’s Cohort III of students, graduated from Harvard, Penn, Lehigh, Illinois State University, and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
All of them are now employed. Our Cohort IV began studies at Harvard, Lehigh and University of Illinois at Chicago. In September we invested our One Millionth Dollar in high-quality high- return education.

Education Equity, Inc. is no longer an experiment. We are now a successful demonstration of how EEI”s unique underwriting process combined with a seamless alignment of interest serves both students and investors well. The social benefits that our investments create are seen in the results at schools such as McCutcheon Elementary in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. In a neighborhood with more than its’ fair share of poverty and homelessness Gwyneth Kram leads a 1+ CPS rated school. Ms. Kram is one of six students that EEI has supported at The University Of Illinois at Chicago’s EdD in Urban School Leadership Program.

Now our task is to grow the business to a scale that is profitable and even more significant in its’ impact. Over the next six months our goal is to raise three million dollars in a “Series A” equity financing. This additional capital along with the one million plus we have already invested and combined with conservative debt issuance will allow us to invest over two million dollars annually in a group of over 100 students by school year 2019-2020.

Year end Report December 31st, 2016

By | Quarterly Reports

As of the end of 2016 EEI has invested $821,000 in thirty-seven students. All ten students in Cohort I are graduated, employed and in repayment. In Cohort II, twelve of the seventeen students have completed their degrees. Of those twelve graduates, eleven are employed and in payment. Five of the cohort are still in school. Two of those still in school, are working full time and in payment.

The ten students in Cohort III are all in school and on track. We have begun the identification of Cohort IV and have two UIC EdD candidates signed so far. The next student signed will be our fortieth student and will represent, when fully, funded our first million dollars of investment in cost effective higher education.

This year we added for funding, students attending The University of Pennsylvania, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and Illinois State University. In this year we are also pleased by the growing career success of our students. Three are now Principals of Chicago area schools. Many are AP’s and hold other senior administrative roles in schools in Chicago, Denver, Georgetown, Massachusetts New Orleans and St. Paul, Minnesota. We now also have our first international placement, with one of our MIT graduates accepting an economic consulting job in London.

The most important aspect of our work this year has been the continued steady results of our investments as reflected in the academic and career success of the students we invest in. Measured by EEI’s share of the financial returns earned by the students we invest in, our model of highly predictable and low variance of income is validated by the data. Our model reverses engineers future results by using a top-down analysis of labor market and school placement data to guide our investments. It works.

Year two career data for our Cohort I students is beginning to reveal the longer term returns. In their second year of post-graduate work our cohort I is earning on average 15% more than in their first year.

These results will aid us as we seek the capital that will allow us to scale up and serve more students while we also achieve profitability for our investors.

Andy Davis Presents ISA’s At Hardwick Day Summit

By | In The Press

I am at the Hardwick Day Summit on Enrollment and the Economy, observing and listening to a group of sophisticated and focused college leaders and enrollment specialists explore the trends and requirements of their craft. It is fascinating.

Later this morning I will speak with them on what part Income Sharing Agreements (equity based student funding) can have in helping schools shape the student body they want on terms that are economically viable for the school and most importantly are attractive to students.

Along the way in the slides I have made reference to documents and articles that are relevant to the discussion. The web links for those items are here.
Capitalism and Freedom
Investing in Human Capital
Investing in value, sharing risk: Financing higher education through Income Share Agreements
Lower the risk of investing in college with Income Share Agreements
How Income Share Agreements Could Play a Role in Higher Ed Financing
Back A Boiler
Human Equity? Regulating the New Income Share Agreements
Education Equity, Inc.
Student and Parent Perspectives on Higher Education Financing

Hardwick Day ISA presentation

Education Equity, Inc. Second Quarter Report 2016

By | Quarterly Reports

As of June this year, all ten students in Cohort I have completed the education programs that EEI helped fund. They have also each completed one year of employment. All ten were employed in the fields that they intended. Two in finance/ economic analysis and eight as educational leaders.

The seventeen students in Cohort II are all in the process of either seeking post graduation employment or in the case of the students at Lehigh University and Columbia University, weeks away from completing their final semester of graduate work. Of the seventeen students in this group, fifteen are focused on becoming K-12 education leaders, all are on track. Four have already secured employment for September.

We are now in the middle of recruiting and contracting with Cohort III. We will have students attending graduate education programs at Columbia University , Harvard University , The Johns Hopkins University , Lehigh University , University Of Illinois at Chicago, and The University of Pennsylvania.

Cohort III will also have some undergraduate students. In June, EEI signed a letter of understanding with The Golden Apple Foundation of Chicago. (GA) They are a well established and prestigious Foundation that operates programs that train and fund undergraduates that commit to teaching in high need Illinois Schools. Starting this summer EEI will offer our equity based funding to the third and fourth year students in the Golden Apple Scholars program.

GA selects students that attend any one of fifty Colleges and Universities across Illinois. In addition to special summer training while they are undergraduates, after graduation and on entering the teaching profession, GA continues to coach and mentor these scholars as they begin their careers as teachers. Data and experience shows GA Scholars persevering and succeeding as high quality teachers that perform better and longer than typical new recruits to teaching.

Even with the funding support that GA, Governments and institutions provide the students, there is often additional financial need. EEI has agreed to offer funding that should close this gap. We believe that our investment in these students will provide our investors with a return while also supporting a positive and powerful force for good in Illinois K-12 education.

In the second quarter this year we have made an investment in our intellectual property infrastructure with the redesign of our legal agreement for contracting with students. As the ISA business has evolved there has been a great deal of thought by Think tanks, researchers and foundations about the proper disclosure, equity and ethics of equity investing in student funding. Our contract continues to be a state of the art example of best practices in this new business. Our overall objective is to have a legal document that is understandable and equitable to both students and investors.

A Good Read…

By | In The Press

If Milton Friedman were still alive, how would he approach the current student-loan mess? The legendary free-market economist signaled his views in provocative essays a half-century ago, where he argued that it’s a mistake to put everyone on the same repayment schedule, regardless of how well or poorly their destinies play out. Instead, Friedman favored a new system in which repayments would be tied to students’ future earnings. (Full article on Forbes)

Education Equity, Inc. Fourth Quarter Report 2015

By | Quarterly Reports

In the fourth quarter of 2015, Education Equity, Inc. (EEI) continued to invest in our classes of 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, and began the process of identifying and recruiting our third cohort, the class of 2016-2017.

In the fourth quarter, EEI made additional investments of $77,000 in our student partners. This brings our total investment to $550,000, as of December 31, 2015. We have earned about $18,000 of return from our share of employment earnings, bringing our total net investment, as of year-end 2015, to $532,000.00

All ten members of our initial class of 2014-2015 are now employed and making repayments as planned. Not only are they employed and paying us, but we are proud of the work they are doing. Eight of the ten are employed in K-12 education here in Chicago. Two are non-citizens employed in the business world. Both of the non-citizens are typical of the bright, hard-striving people who have historically made immigration such an important and valuable factor in the growth and prosperity of the United States.

Our big news for the quarter is that we were able to bring discussions with our first Institutional investor to a successful conclusion. Subsequent to the end of 2015, during the first quarter of 2016, CME Group Foundation of Chicago became our first institutional investor, and our largest investor overall. CME Group Foundation’s total commitment to EEI is $500,000. CME Group Foundation is a philanthropic arm of CME Group.

CME Group is the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, handling 3 billion contracts worth approximately $1 quadrillion annually (on average). The company provides a marketplace for buyers and sellers, bringing together individuals, companies and institutions that need to manage risk or that want to profit by accepting risk.

In 2016, our goal is to fund at least thirty new students in an aggregate amount of about
$750,000. We will pursue this goal through further incremental increases in our current relationships. We will also pursue at least one new program in partnership with an employer.

We will also update our legal contract to reflect the latest thinking in best practices.
These will include enhancements in consumer protection that will allow us to continue to claim industry leadership in fair dealings with the students in whom we invest.

Education Equity, Inc. Third Quarter Report 2015

By | Quarterly Reports

In the third quarter of 2015 Education Equity, Inc. (EEI) recruited two more students to our 2015-2016 Cohort Two. One of the additional students is attending Harvard Graduate School of Education. The other late addition is a second year medical student at The Medical College of Wisconsin,a new school for EEI. This brings the size of our Cohort Two to seventeen and our total number of students supported to twenty-seven.

In the third quarter we made further investment in Cohort One students of $10,002.00 and an investment of $63,846.00 in the seventeen new students of Cohort Two. This brings EEI’s total investment in students to $483,767 and a net investment of $473,000, given our $10,000 to date receipt of student earnings.

Of the ten students in our first years group, nine have now graduated and one is on track to graduate on schedule. Eight of the ten have entered repayment and we anticipate the other two will be in repayment by calendar year end. All ten students of Cohort One are employed in their intended fields, though one is “under-employed” and is still seeking a better position in her field.

In the quarter we raised $100,000 from new investors. While it was our goal, in the third quarter, to close our first investment from an institutional investor we have not done so. We have come to the very late stages of an extensive due diligence process and do believe this investment will close in the fourth quarter.

With our new banking relationship in place at American Chartered Bank, we are now collecting from our students as they enter repayment by using the banking industries ACH debit system.
This process allows us to automatically debit money on a prescheduled basis (typically coordinated with the students pay cycle) so that no action is required of the payer for the money to transfer to our account each month. This system is the best collection process that is available today. We are very pleased with the service and cooperation that American Chartered Bank has provided us. American Chartered is headquartered in Downers Grove, Illinois and specializes in banking Chicago area privately owned business.

In the fourth quarter our primary objective will be closing the investment from our first Institutional investor. This investment will allow us to expand our Cohort Three to forty students. This will be twice the size of Cohort Two and at an average of $25,000 of investment per student, will be a one million dollar investment.

Wall Street Journal Coverage

By | In The Press

Today’s Wall Street Journal covers Education Equity, Inc. and the concept of equity investing in students. We are one of two currently operating in the space. The most important point is that our students are very satisfied with the product.

Click here.