Tullman makes things happen

May 9, 2006

Howard Tullman, chairman of the privately funded portion of the public-private Experiencia learning experiment, is used to stirring up excitement.

The 60-year-old serial entrepreneur, company-builder and philanthropist has been making things happen in Chicago at blinding speed.

While performing an emergency rescue job as president of Kendall College and moving it to Chicago from Evanston and into solvency in the past two years, he also has teamed with Kansas City educators Connie Campbell and Elaine Mondschein to test market the Experiencia concept in Michigan.

After raising $5 million from top tier venture capitalists such as Bruce Rauner, managing principal of GTCR, a $4 billion private equity and venture capital firm based in Chicago, Tullman and his team debuted his Experiencia program in Michigan last year.

Serving 150 schools from a learning center they established at Taylor, Mich., the program boggled the minds of educators. Earthworks produced an 81 percent gain in fourth-grader achievement scores, and Exchange City resulted in a 51 percent gain for fifth-graders, along with parental raves.

Tullman then devoted the balance of his original $5 million capital to replicate the program in Chicago this year.

The cost to Chicago schools: $35 per student.

--Ted Pincus