Chicago is investing $20 million in the effort to improve the schools, which enroll about 5,800 students.
The $96 million will be used to erase the district's debt, pay for early childhood classes and principal training, among other programs.
The district, once recognized as one of the best urban school systems in the country, is struggling with low test scores and graduation rates.
The Walton Family Foundation is announcing its plans today to donate $25.5 million to the Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP, charter network.
The authority will take over management of some of the state's lowest-performing schools, but will not focus entirely on Detroit in its first year, as had been previously stated.
The board had been led by Republican-backed members for two turbulent years.
Big money has been pouring into some school board races, as political parties seek to influence local politics.
The district had been placed on probationary status in January.
For the first time in perhaps decades, Chicago public school students are eating roasted chicken cooked from scratch at school. But the chicken on lunch trays today is special for reasons beyond the fact that its not in the form of nuggets or patties: It was raised without the use of antibiotics.
The $250,000 prize will be used as a way to promote best practices among charter school operators.