A Brief History of ReSchool

February 22, 2016 by Amy Anderson

For more information on ReSchool Colorado, visit www.reschoolcolorado.org.

For nearly two decades, the Donnell-Kay Foundation has invested in efforts to improve the current education system, from state level policy to early-stage seed funding for innovative organizations and new learning models.

Yet in spite of many great people and programs, our current education system operates on principles that make widespread excellence impossible. While bright lights exist, there are still tremendous gaps in opportunity and the changes are not systemic enough to improve outcomes for far too many learners who are uninspired by school and ill-prepared for life beyond it.

At the same time, rapid changes in our culture and breakthrough innovations have opened the door to fundamentally transforming the way we learn. This is the inspiration for ReSchool Colorado, a multi-year initiative to design and launch a new education system in our state.

If you’re new to the ReSchool story, follow ten highlights of our journey below.

1. Commitment to Discovery-Driven Planning (2013)

Early on, we committed to Discovery-Driven Planning for what we knew would become a complex, multi-year venture. Rather than setting a finish-line target and backwards mapping towards it, the ReSchool team makes assumptions based on possible futures and then tests those assumptions through prototyping. As we convert our assumptions into knowledge, we are continuously incorporating new data into the design of ReSchool. To begin this process, we issued a Request for Information in 2013 which led to the visualization (above) of the ReSchool system. You may have seen this map hanging in our office, and we take it as a good sign that it still conveys our evolving vision three years later.

2. Identifying the “Non-Consumers” (2014)

We partnered with the Clayton Christensen Institute to consider the design of a new system through the lens of their Theory of Disruptive Innovation. The theory of disruptive innovation describes “a process by which a product or service transforms an existing market by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability.” In order to understand the users who might be attracted to a new system, we identified the “non-consumers” of our current education system. Our research surfaced three populations of non-consumers in Colorado: early learners ages 0-5 who do not participate in formal systems of early childhood care, homeschoolers who have opted out of the formal system, and young adults who seek or require a very different path to college or career.

3. A New Vision for Early Learners (2014)

In partnership with Greater Good Studio, we conducted extensive ethnographic research with one group of non-consumers: the families of early learners age 0-5. We spent five full days shadowing low-income, Latino families living in Boulder Housing Partners communities to better understand the informal networks of family, friends and neighbors they utilize for care. The result was co-constructing A New Vision for Early Learners.

4. Funding Support (2015)

By mid-2014, our preliminary learning had crystallized enough to compel a local funding partner, Gates Family Foundation, to support our work. This allowed us to grow our team and our capacity to do more of it. A year later, Walton Family Foundation joined as a first-time funding partner while the Gates Family Foundation awarded our team a second grant.

5. Strategic Planning (2015)

Local consultant Andrew Bray helped ReSchool Colorado define a mission and vision, as well as an early financial model that could support the system. To learn more about the other system components, check out our recent blog The ReSchool Vision.

Our Mission

To design and launch an inspirational education system that coordinates people and resources in new, dynamic ways, ensuring an experience that is welcoming, empowering, and world-class.

Our Vision

By 2030, 50,000 Colorado youth, from babies to young adults, will be learning in a new education system. They will be actively pursuing extraordinary life paths and prepared for each step along the way as powerful contributors to our society.

6. Learning Opportunities Prototype (2015)

This summer prototype was designed in continued partnership with Greater Good Studio for the same group of Boulder Housing Partners families with young learners ages 0-5. It combined several elements from A New Vision for Early Learners including the pre-loaded debit cards, a variety of summer learning opportunities, and the support of BHP resident Learner Advocates. Education journalist Alan Gottlieb shares our process in Opportunity to Learn: How one Colorado foundation is prototyping a new education system.

7. Learner Advocate Pilot (2015)

We teamed up with Fidelis Education and five other community partners to further test the role of the learner advocate and how technology might amplify the advocate’s impact. Here’s what we learned.

8. A Framework for the Future of Learning (2015)

Chief Learning Designer Colleen Broderick continues to curate every resource imaginable on brain science and how we learn. From this exhaustive research, Colleen is constructing ReSchool’s Framework for the Future of Learning – what we often refer to as the “container” that makes sense of seemingly disparate learning experiences, and ensures the learner is building knowledge, skills and dispositions to support their aspirations.

9. Education Governance Summit (2015)

In the process of conducting research on governance, Director Amy Anderson was heavily influenced by Frederic LaLoux’s book, Reinventing Organizations, and the revolutionary Dutch nursing model Buurtzorg. This exploration led to a convening of education governance experts from across the country, where we unveiled an early iteration of ReSchool’s governance model.

10. ReSchool Website (2016)

Check out our own ReSchool website, which launched in the spring of 2016.

Contact Amy