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“Our model says we can improve education in America by winning the hearts and minds of the greater population, informing them on the issues and creating solutions. That’s what we plan to do.” — Michael Rosskamm ’08

Michael Rosskamm ’08

A force for education reform

Revive the Dream Institute founder Michael Rosskamm ’08 receives the Siebel Scholars Impact Award

By Daniel P. Smith

2/14/2012 - Michael Rosskamm ’08 encountered a disheartening realization while teaching in the New York City public school system: For many of his students, the American Dream was dead.

“We’re a society that values the American Dream, but I didn’t see this (in) my students,” Rosskamm said. “Regardless of their intelligence or work ethic, the system didn’t position them to succeed.”

Dissatisfied with the status quo, Rosskamm crafted a plan to improve the educational options available to underserved students, with an assist from intelligent, influential professionals.

Last year, Rosskamm co-founded the Revive the Dream Institute with fellow educational advocate Micki O’Neil.

The two envisioned a program that would build an enthusiasm among emerging leaders for education reform. “These are the folks who have the political capital, the money, the influence and networks to drive the issue,” Rosskamm said. “With enough smart, successful folks on board, we can have a real impact on the educational decisions being made in this country.”

On Feb. 8, Rosskamm’s upstart initiative received a $50,000 boost. The Revive the Dream Institute was named one of the three inaugural recipients of the Siebel Scholars Foundation’s “Impact Award” competition.

The contest was open to more than 700 Siebel Scholar alumni from 19 of the nation’s foremost graduate programs in business, bioengineering and computer science, including Kellogg. The award honors philanthropic initiatives that demonstrate the highest promise for significant societal change in areas such as public health, education and energy.

The $50,000 prize will help the Revive the Dream Institute professionalize its operations, hire its first staff member and market itself to potential partners across the U.S.

“The Impact Award allows us to set a base we can grow from,” said Rosskamm, a Siebel Scholar who leaned heavily on his Kellogg network and education to strengthen his business plan.

The Institute’s first 25 fellows include Chicago-area professionals in fields as diverse as law, medicine, finance and higher education. After the group’s 10-month introduction to education reform concludes in July, the fellows will join a local educational organization for at least one year to provide support, marshal resources and leverage networks.

Rosskamm, by day a senior director at a New York-based charter management group, plans to expand Revive the Dream over time to three additional cities and hopes eventually to engage 20 cities and 500 fellows each year.

“Our model says we can improve education in America by winning the hearts and minds of the greater population, informing them on the issues and creating solutions,” Rosskamm said. “That’s what we plan to do.”