Crain's: Walgreens Chief Bolsters Education

by Mary Cameron Frey

Published by Crain's Chicago Business on October 20, 2007.

CHICAGO -  The Midtown Educational Foundation was founded in 1963 to help urban children ages 8 to 18 with personal and academic development. Its two centers in Chicago, the Metro Achievement Center for girls and Midtown Center for boys, offer after-school and summer programs that integrate academics and moral virtues. Through them, thousands of children have participated in programs that enable them to compete in college prep high schools and enter college. The Walgreens One-on-One Program recruits young executive volunteers to tutor students. Jeffrey A. Rein, chairman and CEO of Walgreen Co., is co-chairman of its fundraising dinner Monday and will attend.

CRAIN'S: How did you first learn about the Midtown Educational Foundation?

MR. REIN: I joined the board in 2002 at the suggestion of Dan Jorndt, our former chairman, who had been on the board for many years. He suggested I take a look at what they offer.

Why do you think the MEF is important to Chicago?

One of the end results is that kids who are tutored by the MEF go on to college at five times the rate of their peers across the country. Education is a way for others to help themselves and to live up to their full potential. The MEF teaches people what it takes to make a difference in the world, and they serve as role models. Through education, you are teaching people to be productive members of society - not a drain on society's resources.

Tell me about the dinner.

We're expecting around 500 guests at the Four Seasons Hotel and, in addition to cocktails and dinner, we're giving our Reach for Excellence Award to John Canning Jr., chairman and CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners. (He serves on the boards of the Children's Inner City Educational Fund and the Big Shoulders Fund, and his family foundation funds scholarships for more than a hundred disadvantaged kids in Chicago.)

Can you explain your personal views on philanthropy?

I like to support areas and groups that help educate others. I believe in education as a means to an end and because it helps people mature and overcome adversity. I'm fortunate to be in a position to be able to give back. Basically, I like to give to groups that help people help themselves.

Midtown Educational Foundation Reach for Excellence Awards Dinner

When: 5:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Place
How much: $500 and up
Who'll be there: Around 500 supporters, including captains of industry, board members and friends
For more info: (312) 553-2000