Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, is making a push for improving education by donating $50 million for a project aiming to reimagine the high school experience.
Jobs is working with a team of educators and designers in an effort to crowdsource new ideas for the education of high school students. Russlynn H. Ali will be the face of the campaign. Ali is a former assistant secretary for civil rights in President Obama’s administration.
“The system was created for the work force we needed 100 years ago,” Ms. Powell Jobs said. “Things are not working the way we want it to be working. We’ve seen a lot of incremental changes over the last several years, but we’re saying, ‘Start from scratch.’ ”
The campaign, XQ: The Super School Project, comes with the goal of being an inspiration to educators, students and leaders from other sectors to create a new plan for high schools. Teams will create plans to be submitted over the next few months that could focus on a number of areas including school schedules, curriculum, and technologies. A group of judges will pick five of the 10 best ideas by next fall, and then Jobs will then back each plan financially.
Jobs currently offers financial support to College Track, a program that helps low-income students enroll and succeed in higher education.
The XQ project will be the highest-profile project taken on by Emerson Collective, the group Jobs uses for her philanthropic endeavors, writes Jennifer Medina for The New York Times.
“There is a huge gap between what students want for their future and what their schools are offering,” Ms. Powell Jobs said. “Once you have liberation from a system that was designed for the beginning of the century, there’s nobody to blame.”
Jobs said that she plans to ensure the new schools are public. However, it is still undecided as to whether they will be charter schools.
“We want to make high schools back into the great equalizers they were meant to be,” Ali said. “The point is not to have some predetermined outcome. The hunger for change is real, and we’re offering up the tools to communities to make it happen.”
Jobs is not the first in the sector to offer support to improving field of education. Microsoft founder Bill Gates created the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife in an effort to offer financial support to high schools across the country toward the creation of more focused, clear-cut and effective education programs.
The deadline to submit ideas is November 15.