Education that predicts the future

Throughout the country, students are eager to learn, and teachers are eager to teach. But barriers prevent students and teachers from realizing their potential in both the classroom and their lives. We are working to change that. Education should be three-dimensional—enabling students to identify their innate abilities, turn them into valued skills, and apply them in ways that contribute to society. We want to broaden the range of educational opportunities available to students and teachers by removing barriers that limits access to them. Education predicts the future. Let’s ensure America’s brightest days are ahead.

Education should be a three-dimensional experience—one that enables students to identify their innate abilities, turn them into valued skills, and apply them in ways that contribute to society.

Our vision in action

  • Derrel Bradford and 50CAN amplify the voices of rising education leaders who are passionate about discovering innovative ways for every child to develop their unique talents and abilities.
  • Youth Entrepreneurs expanded from 50 programs in three states in 2015 to almost 300 programs in 19 states in 2019. Thousands of students are now learning the principles and gaining hands-on experience to be entrepreneurs, developing a can-do mindset they can apply in whatever career path they choose.
  • Professor John Tomasi leads a program at Brown University that encourages students to consider and evaluate alternate points of view—one of more than 1,000 professors the Stand Together community supports at over 350 universities who are expanding open inquiry and a rigorous exchange of ideas that are essential for learning.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” —Albert Einstein.

Guiding principles and insights

Learn to be. Learn to know. Learn to do.

Education should be an experience that fosters the unique potential of every student. Unfortunately, today’s system instead focuses more on the rote process of schooling—telling students to sit quietly and memorize information. The result is students who lack the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing world. It also fails our nation’s teachers, many of whom spend an average of 45 school days each year prepping for and administering standardized tests rather than engaging students in rich curriculum based on their needs.

The Stand Together philanthropic community is working to change that by supporting educators who provide a three-dimensional learning experience. Learn to be means students identifying their unique aptitudes. Learn to know means acquiring the knowledge necessary to turn those aptitudes into valued skills. Learn to do means students apply what they’ve learned to contribute to society. All three are necessary to developing the critical thinking skills required to succeed in a 21st century economy.

We want to empower teachers to apply their own passions and aptitudes to help guide students along their journey of learning.

An “all-of-the-above” approach to increasing opportunities in education

Much of today’s education debate misses the point: It shouldn’t be about where students go to school. It should be about how to best meet each student’s own unique needs. It’s why our community has united with teachers representing various educational options that provide three-dimensional learning opportunities to students across the country—whether it be public or private, charter or home school, four-year college degrees or vocational training, or anything else.

That includes Matt Silverthorne, a K-12 teacher who brought entrepreneurship classes to his high school nearly 30 years ago and continues teaching today. It also includes state-of-the-art online programs like OpenStax that utilize adaptive technology to help students identify their strengths and close learning gaps. It includes programs like SkillsUSA that—alongside Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame—encourage more students to attend trade schools, transforming their strengths into valued skills that are in high demand.

Students and teachers are experimenting with various learning methods—and we want to ensure all students have access to whichever educational option is best able to help them succeed.

Educational opportunities must be available to all students, regardless of their zip codes or family income levels.

Expanding access to more options

The growth of so many new educational models presents enormous opportunities for students to find which is best suited for them, yet barriers deny access to many of them. Low-income families in particular face limited options. Public policies cap enrollment or altogether ban charter schools. Higher education leaves the average student more than $30,000 in debt, and many vocational schools lack sufficient funding to meet growing demand.

Particularly in a country as prosperous and technologically advanced as ours, the Stand Together community is working to remove these and other barriers currently in place.

That includes helping pass public policy reforms that make more options available for every child. It includes leveraging technology to expand access to Advanced Placement high school courses by providing free digital textbooks to schools and districts that otherwise could not afford them. And it includes utilizing online platforms to scale programs like Youth Entrepreneurs to reach far more students than a brick-and-mortar approach.

These are just a few examples of how we are expanding access to education. Given the advances in technology and innovation, we are on the cusp of transforming education like never before.

More examples of the work supported by the Stand Together community:

In education
  • The STEMIE Coalition plans to bring Invention and Entrepreneurship education to 10 million students annually in all 50 states plus Washington, DC within the next five years, helping all students to learn lifelong critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Programs that encourage respect and diversity of thought on college campuses. For instance, comedian Karith Foster leads a freshmen orientation class that uses comedy to help college communities bridge difficult divides.
In communities
  • Programs like Urban Specialists that deploy former gang members who have since transformed their lives to keep schools safe and keep kids from joining gangs.
  • In-prison education programs such as Hudson Link that enable inmates to earn college-accredited degrees, so they have a promising future when they re-enter their communities. Less than 2 percent of Hudson Link graduates are arrested again, compared to the national average of nearly 70 percent.
In business
  • Educational centers, such as the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State, where students and scholars are learning together in a diverse academic community about principled entrepreneurship.
In government
  • Professor Ashley Berner at Johns Hopkins University is producing research that can improve America’s education system by better understanding the benefits of diversity and allowing more educational opportunities to meet students’ unique needs.
  • Unite bipartisan coalitions to expand access to more educational opportunities through public policy reform. In Florida alone, the coalition helped to pass four educational choice programs in recent years, building on similar successes in states like North Carolina, Wisconsin, and dozens more.
  • Support policy champions at all levels of government who will expand access to educational opportunities for all students.

Bottom line

We want to help enable a diverse and innovative educational system. America should be a place where all students find a place to learn and a path to a better future.