The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent billions of dollars exploring the idea that smaller high schools might result in higher graduation rates and better test scores. Instead, it found that the key to better education is not necessarily smaller schools but more effective teachers.
Some people might cringe while recounting how much money the foundation spent figuring this out. But the foundation’s new CEO, Jeff Raikes, smiles and uses it as an example to explain that the charity has the money to try things that might fail.
“Almost by definition, good philanthropy means we’re going to have to do some risky things, some speculative things to try and see what works and what doesn’t,” Raikes said Wednesday during an interview with The Associated Press.
The foundation’s new “learner-in-chief” has spent the nine months since he was named CEO studying the operation, traveling around the world and figuring out how to balance the pressures of the economic downturn with the growing needs of people in developing nations.
The former Microsoft Corp. executive, who turns 51 on Friday, joined the foundation as its second CEO after Patty Stonesifer, another former Microsoft executive, announced her retirement and his friends Bill and Melinda Gates talked Raikes out of retiring.