CHICAGO, Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- John Edwardson, retired chairman and chief executive of CDW, Vernon Hills, Ill., has given $5 million to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business as the founding gift to the school's Social Enterprise Initiative ( http://research.chicagobooth.edu/sei/), which supports student, faculty and alumni interest in the social sector, the school announced.
The social sector includes for-profit and nonprofit organizations with a mission to improve social outcomes that are governed and financed to support their mission.
The funds will be used to support the core activities of the Initiative, which include helping students launch and grow businesses in the social sector, matching alumni interested in board service with nonprofit organizations, and supporting student groups and career interests in the social sector.
The gift will also be used to fund faculty research and data collection, a major activity of the Initiative.In recognition of the gift, the Chicago Booth business plan competition for social ventures has been renamed the John Edwardson Social New Venture Challenge. Edwardson received an MBA from Booth in 1972. He is chairman of the Council on Chicago Booth and a member of the University's board of trustees. "Generating understanding that improves human life is at the core of the University's mission," said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago. " John Edwardson's gift speaks to that core value in a very particular way, helping to support initiatives that simultaneously promote entrepreneurial innovation and social benefit." "The Social Enterprise Initiative is uniquely Chicago," said Sunil Kumar, dean of Chicago Booth. "It builds on Chicago Booth's long-standing culture of rigorous analysis and our discipline-based approach to understanding organizations, markets and policy." " John Edwardson's philanthropic leadership will help us integrate academic research on issues that are important to the social sector with educational activities. In turn, we can effectively study and help develop more effective organizations," Kumar said. "The social sector can benefit from proven market-oriented ideas and best practices from the for-profit sector." Edwardson said the Social Enterprise Initiative is a natural outgrowth of the interests and approaches Chicago Booth students and alumni take to their work.