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Incentivizing philanthropy: Walgreen’s gets contract after gift card giveaway

Courtesy of Wade Tillett
Wade Tillett

It was only a couple of months ago that Walgreen’s CEO Greg Wasson stood with Mayor Rahm at our old neighborhood school, Field Elementary, to announce the giveaway of $25 Walgreen’s gift cards to parents for picking up their children’s report cards. “This is a way, in my view, of incentivizing responsible parenting,” the Mayor said that day.

At the time, I sent this letter to Mayor Emanuel and CEO Wasson, suggesting that there are far better ways to involve parents. I never heard back.

I guess that’s because they were too busy cooking up the $700,000 no-bid contract reported in today’s Sun-Times. The City of Chicago will pay Walgreen’s to screen city employees for a new wellness program.

The lesson here is an old one: corporations always have a financial agenda wrapped up in their generosity. Whether it’s just trying to make themselves look good, using their donations to promote the business, or out-and-out sucking up to the mayor, it’s really not about the kids.

Now that so many corporations are directing so much money into the worst corporate reform programs that actually hurt our children, it’s even more important that we put the pressure on them and do our best to incentivize responsible philanthropy.

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