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Madison Dearborn’s Canning takes home Horatio Alger Award

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John A. Canning Jr.

Growing up the son of a country doctor who was sometimes paid in goods and produce, Madison Dearborn Partners LLC Chairman John A. Canning Jr. worked throughout his youth.

Despite early tragedies — while still in his teens, Mr. Canning's brother and mother died within one week of each other — Mr. Canning persevered. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Denison University and a law degree from Duke University School of Law. Today, he is not only chairman and co-founder of Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, but also is a co-owner of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers ballclub.

Those early efforts — and Mr. Canning's philanthropic work, including providing 100 scholarships for inner-city children for parochial schools through his family foundation — made him one of 11 people selected to receive the 2013 Horatio Alger Award. Some 106 students receiving scholarships from the Horatio Alger Association also will be honored at next month's awards event.

Mr. Canning was offered the award “for demonstrating courage in the face of personal challenges and for utilizing opportunities afforded through higher education and the American free-enterprise system to achieve success.” Holly Rollins, association spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail.

In an interview, Mr. Canning said he is excited about the award because the organization's philanthropic mission is consistent with his own charitable goals. — ARLEEN JACOBIUS

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 2013 print issue as, "Madison Dearborn's Canning takes home Horatio Alger Award".