NBC Features Retired Businessman Striving to Fix Urban Schools

     You should give credit where credit is due and to NBC’s credit, they did just that.

     The September 11 broadcast of “NBC Nightly News” featured retired billionaire Eli Broad – covering a positive side of businessmen. Broad is the son of Lithuanian immigrants who built “two Fortune 500 companies: in housing and insurance.”

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     He co-founded Kaufman & Broad and later acquired Sun Life Insurance (renamed SunAmerica) in 1971 and sold the company to investment bank AIG (NYSE:AIG) in 1998 for $18 billion. Now he’s giving back.

     “If you live in L.A. or know the city well, it’s a good bet then that you know the name Eli Broad – a very wealthy man, a successful businessman who has given a lot away,” “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said. “He thinks our schools can learn a lot from a well-run business and all it takes is leadership from the top down.”

     Broad has a “plan to rebuild America’s public schools,” NBC correspondent Rehema Ellis said. “He created the Broad Superintendents Academy, a ten-month program to place some of the nation’s top achievers in urban school districts.”

     The academy seeks out successful businessmen, retired military officers and others with demonstrated leadership skills who are willing to give back to various communities with struggling public education systems. Then Broad trains those people to serve as school superintendents.

     Broad, listed in the top 50 of the Forbes list of the richest 400 Americans, has put his money behind his actions. The retired Los Angeles billionaire has not only given his time, but has also opened his checkbook.

     “In six years, he’s invested more than $14 million,” Ellis said. “Thirty-eight Broad graduates head districts in 30 cities, serving 2 million students. Ninety percent have spearheaded improvements in reading and math – a big undertaking for a man who retired ten years ago.”

     Broad told “Nightly News” that he wanted to spend his retirement making a difference and not engaging in leisurely activities.

     “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life at a country club playing golf,” Broad said. “I want to do something that makes a difference and I think trying to improve public education will make a big difference.”

     In a year-long study by the Business & Media Institute, “Bad Company III,” positive coverage of business leaders was uncommon. News outlets showed businessmen as criminals 1½ times more often than they did as philanthropists.