A massive construction bubble, driven both by speculative investments and government subsidies. Investment houses with excessive leverage in that very same construction bubble. A stock market crash, a spike in unemployment, global panic, a wave of domestic bank failures and resounding political consequences.
B. J. Cassin is no stranger to the idea that small investments can generate outsized results. That is the foundation of the venture capital industry—the business in which Cassin has earned his fortune over the last 35 years. So it is no surprise that Cassin’s next big move in K-12 education philanthropy will invest in carefully selected schools, educational entrepreneurs, and school networks with the intention of “transforming” faith-based and private schooling.
Cassin was one of the most important funders behind the growth of Chicago’s acclaimed Cristo Rey Jesuit High School from a single site in 2000 to a network of 28 high schools in 18 states and D.C. today (with more on the way). These Catholic schools now serve 9,000 students per year, the vast majority of them racial or ethnic minorities from low-income homes. With its innovative work-study model of four students sharing a job at a company, the network is affordable for families and fiscally sustainable. In 2014, all of its graduates were accepted to college.
When you think of parks, whether Yosemite or your corner playground, you probably think of them as quintessentially public institutions—as the Ken Burns documentary puts it, “America’s best idea.” And while parks are indeed public institutions, a great many owe their existence, growth, and endurance to the generosity of creative donors.