Chicago Annenberg Challenge Records

RADNOR, PA — The Annenberg Foundation and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University are making available all materials related to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC).

Recent news reports have raised questions about the CAC, and about the availability of materials related to it. Many of these materials are archived at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Annenberg Foundation on August 22, 2008 sent a letter to President B. Joseph White stating that the Foundation has no objection to opening the records to the public and that the Foundation is not blocking their release.

A subset of the documents are also located at the Foundation’s offices in Radnor, PA, and at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in Providence, RI. Consistent with the principles of transparency and accountability that guide the work of the Foundation, these materials are now available to the public by appointment.

On December 17, 1993, the Annenberg Foundation launched the Annenberg Challenge for School Reform with a five-year $500 million grant to revive and inspire school reform efforts in this nation.  The Challenge brought together civic, business and university leaders, as well as foundations and other groups, in support of 18 school improvement projects, and it built broad public-private coalitions consisting of mayors, superintendents, principals, union leaders, civic leaders and community groups. The CAC was supported with a $49.2 million grant.

■ All participating sites in the Annenberg Challenge for School Reform were locally controlled and locally governed.

■ The Annenberg Foundation was not directly involved in the daily operations of any of the 18 challenge sites.  This includes, but is not limited to: programming, staffing, or board composition.

■ Work related to programs, fundraising and development, research, and evaluation at individual Challenge sites during the grant period was undertaken through the local Challenge entities.

■ Founding members of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Board were:  Susan Crown, vice president, Henry Crown Company; Patricia Graham, president, The Spencer Foundation, and former dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Stanley Ikenberry, president-emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Handy Lindsey, executive director, Field Foundation; Barack Obama; Arnold Weber, former president, Northwestern University, and president, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago; and Wanda White, executive director, Community Workshop on Economic Development.

■ The Chicago Annenberg Challenge has no record of providing any salary for William Ayers.

■ Three summative studies of the Annenberg Challenge were undertaken by the Annenberg Foundation and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.  All three documents  —  The Annenberg Challenge: Lessons and Reflections on Public School Reform, Research Perspectives on School Reform: Lessons from the Annenberg Challenge, and The Arts and School Reform: Lessons and Possibilities from the Annenberg Challenge Arts Projects.

For information about accessing CAC-related materials, please contact the Annenberg Foundation ar [email protected] or  310.209.4560 or Darlene Westerberg at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at 401.863.7990. A list of available materials is posted on the respective websites of the Annenberg Institute ( and the Annenberg Foundation (

View Related Articles from Education Week, October 9, 2008
■  Obama, Ayers, and Chicago School Reform by Dakarai I. Aarons
■  Sites Across Nation Pursued Similar Goals by Ann Bradley

View Related Article from Newsweek, October 10, 2008
Assessing Ayers: Innuendo vs. Information by Andrew Romano

View Related Article from PolitiFact, October 10, 2008
A radical Ayers allegation by Alexander Lane  
This article also appears on CQ Politics under the title ““Fact-Checking the Ayers Allegations: So Wrong, It’s “Pants on Fire” Wrong.” 

View Related Article from, October 10, 2008
“He Lied” About Bill Ayers? by Viveca Novak and Brooks Jackson

View Related Article from CBS News, October 13, 2008
McCain’s False Claims On Bill Ayers by Laura Strickler

Associated Files

Related News


Education Coalition Releases Tutor Training to Build National Tutor Corps


AnnenbergTech Hosts Inaugural Young Innovators Accelerator Pitch Competition

Education| Brings Global Nature Live Cams to the Aspen Ideas Festival