• Description

Today's young people are the most diverse, connected generation in history and have incredible aspirations for themselves. Educators all over the country are reimagining learning to better meet this generation's needs, rethinking classrooms and schools so they work better for students. It's an exciting time for innovation in education.

At the same time, big bets are an increasingly popular concept in philanthropy. Several articles and papers in the last year have encouraged donors to consider them as a way of creating meaningful change, including in education. Big bets are usually defined as large grants to a specific issue or an individual organization.

We're proposing something different.

We've been working with partners across the country who are pursuing a common vision: reimagining learning with a broad set of outcomes in mind, so that every student finishes high school with an abundance of choices and the freedom to pursue them. Philanthropists have an opportunity to make a big bet on this shared vision.

Most schools weren't designed with this vision in mind. But right now, all over the country, teams of educators are working to change this. They are partnering with families to create schools that speak to their hopes and honor their strengths. These schools prioritize rigorous academics and help students develop critical thinking skills, set important goals and create plans to reach them, and develop the mindsets and habits they need to take charge of their futures.

Through deep engagement with our partners, we've thought concretely about how these ideas might spread and where existing momentum and early evidence might shine a light on a path forward. In September 2015, with our partners Summit Public Schools and Transcend, we released a paper entitled Dissatisfied Yet Optimistic (DYO), which made the case for reimagining learning. This new companion piece explores what it might take to strengthen and accelerate the momentum created by the early pioneers who are designing schools consistent with the ideas in DYO.

What follows is a big idea for how $4 billion in philanthropy over 10 years could dramatically improve the performance of our schools by focusing on this emerging vision for how schools could produce much better and broader outcomes for students.