Deborah Quazzo to Receive Inaugural Impact Award from Golden Apple Foundation

Award recognizes unwavering commitment to Illinois schools, helping all students succeed

September 12, 2016 (Chicago, IL)Golden Apple will honor Deborah Quazzo with its inaugural Impact Award at the nonprofit’s annual fundraising event to be held at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6:00 p.m. Quazzo has been a tireless and dynamic leader working to change the education landscape through her commitment to investing in education technology, sharing her unique perspective with education organizations, and advocating on behalf of all students for access to quality education.

Golden Apple, a leading nonprofit committed to celebrating and developing great teachers with the ability and passion to make life-changing differences in the lives of students, is honoring Quazzo because she has been a true visionary in urban education for decades. 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.

Proceeds from Golden Apple’s annual fundraising event support the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program, which prepares highly effective future teachers to succeed in schools-of-need in Illinois. The program expanded this year to meet the increasing demand for great teachers at the more than 3,500 Illinois schools-of-need. For 31 years, Golden Apple’s mission has been to inspire, develop and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois, especially in schools-of-need.

Quazzo exemplifies all of the criteria for the Golden Apple Impact Award including:

  • 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

“Illinois’ education system currently is replete with complex, difficult challenges for parents, teachers, and students,” said Dominic Belmonte, Golden Apple President and CEO. “Deborah Quazzo is one of our foremost leaders demonstrating resolve to address these complex challenges.”

Quazzo is managing partner of GSV Acceleration, a venture capital fund investing in the most dynamic entrepreneurs and companies leveraging technology in the global education and talent technology sectors. A former CPS board member, she remains active on a number of education-related boards. She also co-hosts the annual ASU GSV Summit, a transformative annual gathering which celebrates innovation, entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators across the education and talent technology sector from early childhood to life-long learning. 

Nationally recognized education leaders and pioneers have high praise for Quazzo’s significant contributions to the advancement of education:

“John Wesley once said to do all the good you can, for all the people you can, for as long as you can,” said Dr. Mahalia Hines, Common Ground Foundation President and Chicago Board of Education member. “This quote exemplifies Deborah and the work she does for education in Chicago, nationally and internationally.”

"Nationally, Deborah Quazzo is wholly dedicated to better outcomes for all students. These aren’t just words to her – helping all students succeed is in her DNA, it is her life’s purpose and is part of all she does personally and professionally.  Deborah is an inspirational leader who brings leaders in education, business, philanthropy, and technology together to deliver on behalf of students. I cannot think of a better person in our country to receive the Golden Apple Foundation’s Inaugural Impact Award than Deborah Quazzo,” said Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy.

“Deborah Quazzo is well deserving of the Golden Apple Impact Award because she is truly touching the lives of many people,” said Common, Grammy Award winning rapper and founder of the Common Ground Foundation. “She truly inspires educators, which trickles down to our youth. Anywhere she can get in and make change, and step out and be there for people in need, I’ve seen her show up.”

“Deborah is a true champion of education, catalyzing the education innovation sector across the country, and truly supporting teachers, principals, and edtech innovators alike,” said Phyllis Lockett, CEO of LEAP Innovations. “Because of her depth of commitment to educators and her work in driving the sector, she has elevated education for all of our students. She is well-deserving of this recognition.”

Like Quazzo, the Golden Apple Foundation is unwavering in its mission to inspire, develop and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois, especially in schools-of-need. 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.

Scholars are prepared comprehensively for the most challenging teaching environments and receive:

  • Tuition support: up to $23,000

  • Paid summer internships in education (a guaranteed summer job)

  • Classroom teaching experience from the start

  • Job placement assistance after college

  • Ongoing mentoring and support from Golden Apple award-winning educators

When Scholars complete the program, they have acquired more than three times the classroom experiences garnered by traditionally-prepared teachers. Golden Apple continues to support Scholars after they begin their teaching careers through mentoring and professional development opportunities.

The support provided by the Golden Apple Foundation results in an 80% retention rate for Scholars who begin teaching. This is in sharp contrast to the state of Illinois, which only has a 55% retention rate without this support.

L. Todd Rose, author of Square Peg and The End of Average, co-founder and president of The Center for Individual Opportunity, and faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will be a special guest at the Sept. 29 event. 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

2016 marks Golden Apple’s 31st 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, game-changing resources and lifelong support, and, they, in turn, stay in teaching at a school-of-need in Illinois for five or more years. 

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