The Power of an Education

Don Wilson, founder and CEO of DRW, shares his philanthropic mission
Apr 19, 2016 4:05 PM ET
Campaign: DRW

When it comes to donating time and financial resources, I've always been most interested in projects that truly have a long-term impact on improving the community where we live and work, reducing future poverty and creating sustainable opportunity. I think it's an approach that many of us in the industry share. Nothing comes closer to that than education.

That's why DRW decided to partner with the Noble Network of Charter Schools to open DRW College Prep (DRWCP) high school in 2012. As we approach the June celebration of the first-ever graduating class of the school, it's a good time to reflect on the power of education, especially for kids who may not have always envisioned a future that included college.

DRWCP isn't far from DRW's Chicago headquarters—just six miles west—but the school is located in a neighborhood known for a high incidence of violent crime. Ninety-five percent of the students come from low-income households. Dozens are homeless or in temporary housing situations. Despite their personal circumstances, these students are making a choice every day to engage in rigorous academics, act with integrity and "chase down" college in an effort to improve their lives.

Wherever you land on the charter school debate, it's hard to argue with the results that have been achieved at DRWCP and other Noble schools. Eighty-three percent of students graduate from high school within five years. Ninety percent of students enroll in two- or four-year colleges, and those who enroll graduate from college at three times the national average for low-income students.

All of us at DRW are proud of the students who will walk across the stage in June, and proud of the thousands of students who will follow in the coming years. We committed to helping the school get started four years ago, but it's the commitment of these students every day—to harness the power of education—that deserves recognition.

Learn more about Don Wilson and his commitment to education in Chicago at