Steve Jobs reinvented the personal computer, the animation studio, and the music player. Now his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, wants to rethink high school.
On Monday, she unveiled XQ: The Super School Project, a $50 million campaign to conceive of and create the next American high school -- or a "Super School." The project launches with an open call for submissions closing on November 15, from which the project will choose winning proposals to fund.
The challenge is deliberately open-ended, providing few specifics on what would constitute a "Super School." Contestant teams are asked to submit comprehensive plans for teachers, administration and evaluation.
The XQ site points out that education is in need of disruption, stating that: "In the last hundred years, America has gone from a Model T to a Tesla," but public schools have stagnated.
XQ's chief creative officer Russlynn Ali, the former assistant secretary of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, told the Washington Post that change is long overdue.
“The system of public high schools in America really hasn’t undergone any kind of serious transformation in 100 years,” she said.
XQ Institute will announce the challenge winners in August 2016, and then fund at least five schools based on the winning concepts.
Powell Jobs, who has a net worth of nearly $20 billion, according to Forbes, has focused her philanthropic efforts on education for more than a decade. Before XQ, she founded College Track, an East Palo Alto nonprofit that helps underserved youth graduate high school. She also founded the Emerson Collective, which awards grants for education initiatives.
The XQ project's other collaborators include cellist Yo Yo Ma; Geoffrey Canada, head of the Harlem Children’s Zone; and Leon Wieseltier, former editor of The Atlantic.
Powell Jobs, who herself went to the public West Milford High School in New Jersey, is not sure if the project grantees will be public or charter schools, according to the New York Times.
XQ wants to ensure idea generation isn't confined to four walls or to the Internet, so the team is hitting the road and traveling from coast to coast for two months to generate awareness and ideas for the project. Learn more here.
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