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Irene Pritzker

Chair & Co-Founder


Irene Pritzker co-founded the IDP Foundation, Inc. with her daughter, Liesel Pritzker in 2008. Motivated by visiting Ghana and seeing how local schools were often just a small group of children gathered around a tree with a blackboard attached to it, Irene wondered if it would be possible to successfully provide a business loan to schools that were serving the poorest families in Ghana. It seemed as if no one else was taking on the risk of lending to low-fee private schools.

After a lot of hard work, IDPF became one of the few willing to do so. And the multi-faceted IDP Rising Schools Program is proving to be a viable and sustainable model that can be replicated around the world.

After a successful pilot in Ghana with 105 schools with an initial enrolment of 27,000 children, the program continues to grow and the model replicated, expanding with new partners into new countries, reaching over 1,000 schools, serving over 200,000 children.

In addition to program development, Liesel and Irene actively work to mission-align the foundation endowment’s investment strategy – particularly incorporating alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.
As an advocate for sustainable and market-driven solutions, Irene is frequently invited to share the work of the IDP Rising Schools Program at the United Nations and other international forums focused on education. And she’s also often requested to share her investment strategy with the rapidly increasing global interest in impact investing.
In 2010, the Foreign Policy Association awarded Irene the Global Philanthropy Award, and in 2012 the IDP Foundation, Inc. was granted special consultative status to the United Nations.

Contributed to

Impact StoriesGhana
The IDP Foundation Story: Finding Purpose in Sustainable Solutions
I found my philanthropic calling in 2008, while visiting the Agbogbloshie market in Accra, Ghana.
June 2019

Impact StoriesQuality
Raising Teachers’ Self Esteem and Inspiring More Child-Friendly Classrooms in Ghana
In the opening of a video entitled Practical Ways to Make the Classroom Creative and Fun, “Sesame Street” Muppets Zobi and Kami are playing a new song for their favorite teacher, Ms. Efia, slapping out the rhythm on a drum.
March 2019

IDPF Shares Investing Experience at ADIS 2019
Lively and engagingly informative discussions dominated the 2019 African Diaspora Network’s “African Diaspora Investment Symposium” held in the heart of Silicon Valley, California on January 26 – 28, 2019.
February 2019

Impact StoriesSchools
Building School Capacity: Takeaways from a decade in Ghana
Lily Baah began her school on a shoestring, in Apaaso, Ghana in 2005, with six nursery students.
December 2018

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