In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success…with a society that provides opportunities for all.” In the last year, we at Digital Promise have asked ourselves, how can we more effectively provide better opportunities for all?
We marked a major milestone in 2021: Digital Promise’s 10th anniversary. While we took time to reflect on our history and recognize the many individuals and staff whose work has supported Digital Promise’s success, our decennial was more than a celebration. We took great pains to contemplate what our next 10 years of impact would look like; we took stock of where Digital Promise was, assessing what had been accomplished and where the organization needed to go to continue meeting the needs of the education sector. We also intended for our strategic efforts to play a critical role in shaping the narrative surrounding innovation and technology in education, especially due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and our nation’s racial reckoning, while simultaneously repositioning Digital Promise at the forefront.
This work resulted in our new strategic framework, in which we broadened our definition of success. We took the opportunity to outline how our knowledge and tools can work to provide opportunities for all, especially those who have been historically and systematically excluded from full participation in our economy and society. (We lean on “excluded” as opposed to “marginalized” because it aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the need for all people to have a sense of belonging in our society.)
In support of this work, we continued to bring amazing thought leadership to Digital Promise’s staff and board, including former educators, learning sciences researchers, and senior leaders with global education experience. We increased our global assets and launched efforts that took us beyond the United States, making us truly Digital Promise Global.
We also have a substantial (and still growing) network of global practitioners. We marked 10 years of powerful networks in 2021 by welcoming 37 diverse districts to the League of Innovative Schools. We also welcomed the largest Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) Cohort ever, reaching nearly half a million students, more than 28,000 teachers in more than 500 schools. In addition, we celebrated the inaugural Student for Equitable Education (SEE) Summit and were named co-lead for the National Science Foundation Artificial Intelligence (AI) Institute for Engaged Learning. And the list goes on.
Digital Promise is a multi-faceted, multi-issue organization, in service of shaping the future of education and solving some of the most fundamental challenges facing the need to educate all people. The pandemic caught many of us in education underprepared for remote learning. Our staff is working hard with partners to outline what defines true digital transformation in education. We not only need to be better prepared, we must work to eliminate inequities in education outcomes.
We’ve made substantial progress this year and are now focused on a number of strategic investments internally and in areas of needs and growth in our organization and in education. These investments are made possible by our many partners, generous funders, and supporters, including a $20M unrestricted gift from McKenzie Scott. We strongly believe that we are well-positioned to have a great and lasting impact in moving an education agenda that will provide opportunities for all.
CEO, Digital Promise
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