Oral history interview with Chad Wick, 2013
CEO of KnowledgeWorks
Scope and Contents
Chad Wick begins by discussing his background and education: his German-American roots; childhood in Dayton, Ohio; undergraduate engineering studies at General Motors Institute; Air Force service during the Vietnam War; and MBA studies at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Wick next discusses his early career and the experiences that lead to his involvement in philanthropy: his move to Cincinnati to work for PNC Bank; serving as Chairman of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center; a controversial Robert Mapplethorpe show at the Arts Center that lead to Wick’s blacklisting in the banking industry; becoming President of the Mayerson Company in 1990; and helping to create the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation. Wick then discusses the creation and goals of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, of which he served as founding President and CEO from 1998 to 2013: working with John Pepper, CEO of Procter & Gamble to a create nonprofit focused on improving low-performing Cincinnati schools; the creation of the Student Loan Funding Corporation; Starting Points: Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Children, a commision funded by the Carnegie Corporation; shifts in Ohio state education policy in early 1990s, the Head Start program; and Wick’s focus on changing Ohio state policy to allow more funding of professional development for early childhood educators. Wick continues by discussing the 1999 creation of the Ohio College Access Network under Governor (Robert) Bob (A.) Taft (III); strategic grants; New Visions for Public Schools; the creation of New Technology High School in Napa, California and the education initiatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and KnowledgeWorks’ acquisition of the New Tech Network of schools. Wick concludes by further discussing KnowledgeWorks’ interactions with and views on the Carnegie Corporation and some of KnowledgeWorks’ future goals and and areas of focus: Michael Levine’s work in early childcare development; working with Michele Cahill, Robert Hughes and New Visions for Public Schools; KnowledgeWorks’ board meeting with Vartan Gregorian; the Carnegie Corporation’s publication of “The Urban High School’s Challenge: Ensuring Literacy for Every Child”; the differing approaches of older and newer models of philanthropy; how the Common Core is shaping educational policy; the importance of data in promoting and shaping educational reform; the correlation between income inequality and underperforming schools; KnowledgeWorks’ focus on performance and competency-based learning and on equipping high school students with the skills necessary to succeed in college and in the job marking; education reform in Detroit and working to change the culture of the city; the importance of public-private partnerships in sparking change; and President Barack Obama’s visit to Manor New Technology High in Austin, Texas.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York and Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2015.