The award was presented to Whittle by Michael R. Sandler, president and CEO of Education Industry Group and author of Social Entrepreneurship in Education: Private Ventures for the Public Good.
"If âeducation entrepreneur' had its own entry in the dictionary, âChris Whittle' would be in the definition and listed as a synonym.
"Since the 1980s, Chris Whittle has both envisioned and driven education innovations and organizations that have been both lauded and criticized, sometimes controversial, but always effective. From Channel One to Edison Learning and today, Avenues: The World School, he has left an indelibly positive mark on K-12 education, its schools, its practitioners, and most importantly, its students."
Chris Whittle said:
"I am honored to receive this award from an organization that stands for the same principles and goals that I have had over the 30 years that education became my chief focus.
"And I accept this on behalf of all EIA members, whose own work, vision and dedication should give everyone associated with K-12 education real hope for the future."
The EIA Friend of the Education Industry Award is presented annually to an individual or organization that fosters and demonstrates vision, entrepreneurship, a dedication to quality, and the spirit of public-private partnership in advancing education reform.
Whittle tuned a humble beginning — publishing a single college magazine — into Whittle Communications, which then went on to become one of America's top 100 media businesses in the 1980s. Chris Whittle co-founded Edison Schools in 1992 and now sits on the EdisonLearning board of directors. He wrote Crash Course—Imagining a Better Future for Public Schools and is on the board of the Center for Education Reform.
Whittle founded the award-winning Channel One, a national in-school television news program (first anchored by Anderson Cooper), which reached eight million students daily in 12 thousand schools. Over his career Whittle has funded more than 180 full scholarships for students at his alma mater – the University of Tennessee.
Previous recipients of the Association's most prestigious award includes Jeanne Allen, Founder and President, Center for Education Reform; Toru Kumon, founder of Kumon Math & Reading Centers; and Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education.