22 Sep 2015
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Giving Kids a Better Chance


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Marshall Tuck (MBA 2000) combined an interest in social issues and the entrepreneurial lessons he learned at HBS to launch a charter school organization in Los Angeles. In just a few years, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools took over some of the city’s worst-performing schools and turned them into some of the most-improved schools in California.

In this video, Tuck talks about his mission to give inner-city kids a chance at a high-quality education.

“When I applied to HBS, I knew that I wanted to get focused on how we help other people in this world, and frankly how we solve big social issues, and so I applied directly because I felt that the skills around entrepreneurship, around leading highly successful organizations, at which HBS is incredible, were the right skills to help drive change in social issues. I decided to go into education because I think that, in this country, it's the most important issue.

“There are just millions of wonderful kids who right now are not getting a great education. People always think about education as something separate. At the end of the day, it's a big organization in terms of the public-school system. You've got to be entrepreneurial. A lot of the skills that we learn here at [HBS] are very relevant to improving public schools. The fun part is that it's not just about making money. Our output isn't shareholder return. Our output is giving a lot of kids a chance at a better future, which is just a wonderful thing.

“I do my work right now in Los Angeles, only in the neediest areas of LA. We started by building a charter-school organization. Charter schools are public schools, but they're not a part of the traditional public school system. So it allowed someone like me, who had a lot of new ideas but also wanted to be more entrepreneurial, to drive change. We went into South LA and East LA and Inglewood, into communities that had great kids, but frankly the kids had been failed for a really long time by the public school system.

“We just started an organization from scratch. We took over the worst schools in LA at the Partnership for LA Schools, literally the worst. In over five years, we had the highest improvement of any school district in the state of California. Again, it was because we believed in our kids. It's because we support our teachers and our principals. We had high expectations, held people accountable but, at the end of the day, it was truly because we gave our kids a chance. When you give young people a chance, when you believe in them, they will soar.”

(Published September 2015)

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Class of MBA 2000, Section F
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