Golden Apple Selects Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for Impact Award

Award honors Illinois leader who exemplifies deep commitment to improving lives, helping students achieve success through education

October 3, 2017 (Chicago, IL) – Golden Apple will recognize Arne Duncan with the 2017 Impact Award at the nonprofit’s annual fundraising event to be held at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago on Thursday, November 2, at 6 p.m. The Golden Apple Impact Award honors a private individual, company, policy maker, or decision maker who has impacted the lives of many in Illinois through his or her significant, positive engagement in education.

Duncan served as U.S. Secretary of Education during the Obama Administration. Among his many accomplishments as Secretary, his efforts successfully redirected $1 billion toward early-childhood education and reduced high school dropout rates by 27 percent. Prior to his tenure as Secretary of Education, Duncan led Chicago Public Schools as its CEO. He united educators and community members to advance an education reform agenda that focused on opening new schools, expanding after-school and summer programs, and boosting the caliber of teachers. While at CPS, Duncan brought top teaching talent to classrooms, and contributed to a tripling of teacher applications.

“Arne Duncan has been a true trailblazer in education,” said Mike Koldyke, Golden Apple founder. “Not only has he accepted significant challenges to improve education, but through his tremendous leadership experience, he has demonstrated dedication and a true passion for increasing educational opportunity for all students.”

Duncan exemplifies all of the criteria for the Golden Apple Impact Award which include:

  • Demonstrates fearless leadership in the face of adversity

  • Wholly dedicated to better outcomes for all students in Illinois

  • Delivers an aspirational vision for the future and the strategies to achieve the vision

  • Modernizes engagement with students via technology and access to relevant global peers

  • Facilitates gatherings of leaders in education, business, philanthropy, and technology to improve the education experiences of students

  • Inspires entrepreneurial groups of individuals, organizations, or coalitions to improve outcomes for students

  • Invests resources to affect change in innovative ideas, technology, and/or organizations

  • Demonstrates data-driven, research-based decision-making while increasing innovation

  • Engages multiple stakeholders in the delivery of services to students most-in-need

  • Consistently uses sound, unwavering, ethical judgment 

“Golden Apple and Arne Duncan both share a profound dedication to helping teachers succeed in high-needs school environments in Illinois,” said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple president and CEO. “In his roles as a national and local education leader, Arne has advanced education in countless ways, including through teacher recruitment and training -- a platform that is so important to Golden Apple’s work every day. We are proud of all he has achieved and applaud him for his tireless efforts on behalf of educators, students and the community.”

Returning to his hometown of Chicago, currently Duncan is a managing partner with the Emerson Collective where he is advancing the organization’s mission of removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential. Specifically, he’s leading an employment and skills-training program in Chicago for young black men that encourages them to get off the streets and into a job with a promising future.

Golden Apple’s annual fundraising event supports the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program, which prepares future teachers to thrive in the most challenging high-needs school environments where more resilient teachers are desperately needed. As part of the Golden Apple Scholars program, the nonprofit works to prepare and guide aspiring homegrown, minority, and highly-qualified candidates to become highly effective teachers in schools-of-need across Illinois for a minimum of 5 years.

Evidence of the success of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program includes:

  • More than 1,000 Golden Apple Scholars are now teaching in more than 500 schools-of-need in Illinois.

  • 82% of Scholars who enter teaching remain at least 5 years, compared with 55% statewide.

  • Since 1989, Golden Apple Scholars have taught more than 650,000 students in Illinois

Rob Johnson, CBS2 anchor, will be the master of ceremonies. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Lisa Wagner at

About Golden Apple
2017 marks Golden Apple’s 32nd year of innovating teacher preparation and leadership to transform both the careers of teachers as well as the lives of students in Illinois. Many of our Golden Apple Award recipients give back by participating as instructors, academic coaches, and mentors in both our aspiring teachers program (i.e., “The Golden Apple Scholars”) and our professional development program (i.e., “The Golden Apple STEM Institute”).

Because the critical contributor to student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom, Golden Apple provides exceptional teacher preparation for teachers at all stages of their careers. Our focus is on advancing educational excellence for Illinois’ most under-served students. Scholars are recruited from the communities in which they return to serve - with a passion for teaching and a drive to create positive change for young people in their communities. We enhance their college education with exemplary advanced teacher preparation, superior resources and lifelong support, and, they, in turn, stay in teaching at a school-of-need in Illinois for five or more years. Over 600 Scholars are currently preparing to become teachers in schools-of-need throughout Illinois.

Golden Apple is comprised of recognized superior educators, including Golden Apple Award recipients and finalists, leading a passionate team of devoted staff with technical and program expertise, as well as a connected and committed board of directors charged with overseeing our strategic vision. Visit for more information.

Media Contact:
Eileen Rochford
Ph: 312-953-3305

Impact AwardTony Bosma