Passion-Driven Learning

I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to many startups, non-profits and companies in New York that are changing our everyday lives. One of my favorite organizations so far is the Future Project, who encourages and assists children in finding their passions to change the world. 

Below is a Getting Smart / Huffington Post original piece that  I co-authored with my father Tom Vander Ark on the work of the Future Project. 

Good Work: Future Project Pushes Passion-Driven Learning 

The biggest problem in American secondary schools may be boredom. What American youth need more then anything is opportunity to discover their passions and unleash them into the world.The Future Project, a NYC-based startup, is addressing this challenge by mobilizing an army—the Future Corps—to help American high school students find and begin working toward their dream.

My daughter Katie (who co-authored this piece) shares my interest in helping young people find their own dream. We believe in passion-driven learning.  We believe that most young people can make a difference—they just need at least one person that believes in them and a few skills.   The skills required to make an impact look a lot like employability skills—the ability to communicate a vision, to build a team, to manage project, and to measure results.

The Future Project (as described in this video: stands at the intersection of educational redesign, national service, social innovation and entrepreneurship, personal and community transformation and even science, art and technology.

The Future Corps consists of local college students, graduate students or young professionals in who are matched with students (called Future Fellows). This ‘dream team’ gets to work putting dreams into action. Some students have started non-profits, filed patents, build teams, conducted events, and launched campaigns aimed at transforming New York, New Haven, and Washington D.C.

Fellows in the Future Corps have shown increased engagement in school and are very positive about their futures. To date there are 251 Future Projects in action, some which were showcased in New Haven last week. It’s a daunting task to make the large-scale social change that the Future Projects sets out to but their work has proven to positively reach students and engage a community simultaneously.

Founders Andrew Mangino and Kanya Balakrishna hatched an idea while running in Washington D.C. in 2010 and since then have built an organization that is passionate about engaging a generation to make a difference. Challenges will arise as Andrew outlines here, yet The Future Project is determined to change America’s education system by creating partnerships and spreading inspiration. Their pilot year was a success by many standards. We invite you to join us in helping Future Corps spread passion driven learning nationwide.

For more, see:

Good Work is a Sunday series about finding and doing mission-driven work.  This blog first appeared on Huffington Post

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