It's been 4 weeks since the Yass Prize accelerator began. With an incredible line-up of thought leaders from across the country - representing every educational model and service imaginable - I started this journey excited about the wonderful connections I would make. Last week, I completed the accelerator with a profoundly new outlook on the state of the education movement in the United States.
Every student, every place, in every way.
The Yass Prize is "sector-agnostic", flexible and adaptable with their support of innovations across the education industry in recognition of the power unlocked when ideas, knowledge and resources combine to transcend the boundaries of what has been in favor of what can be. The Yass Prize accelerator offered each applicant the opportunity to explore the mindset of the educator-entrepreneur alongside that of the investor-philanthropist. Who are these individuals fearlessly blazing a trail for the world to follow? What was the catalyst for their journey? Why and how do they persist in the face of unimaginable hardship? We heard from Sal Khan who shared how tutoring his cousin led to the creation of Khan Academy, a solution that has revolutionized online education. We learned that Jeff and Janine Yass were so inspired by the efforts of providers, educators and innovators to provide a truly permission-less education for students during the COVID pandemic that Janine committed to creating the Yass Foundation for Education to redirect all of their education philanthropy. We listened to school founders, school leaders and movement-makers share their personal stories of failure and triumph, the soul-deep desire to see their own children succeed and an all encompassing vision of what school can be. For every student, in every place, we can build educational options that are radically responsive to the unique environment in which families exist. In the words of the inimitable T. Willard Fair, President and CEO of the Urban League of Miami, "What works over there, may not work over here."
Discovery Level 3 students building a pea trellis on the farm as highlighted in Florida Today.
I'm not sure that I can appropriately express just how transformative it has been to be recognized by the Yass Prize. The award has reinvigorated our entire school family and brought to light the incredible network of support that exists right here in our community. I have bonded with school founders whose work is literally changing the face of education in real time while cementing collaborations that will serve children in my own community. Most of all, I have been humbled by the pride that sparkles in the eyes of my own children when they share with others the accomplishments of Verdi EcoSchool. I will be forever grateful for this experience - this has been the journey of a lifetime and I am so very excited to follow where the path leads!
$1 Million Yass Prize to be announced on December 13
The 33 semifinalists for the prestigious Yass Prize are now just days away from the final decision, to be announced on December 13, 2023 in New York City. The Yass Prize, in partnership with Forbes, is known as the Pulitzer of Education Innovation, and winning the coveted $1 million prize or one of eight finalist awards each worth $500,000 creates an exponential impact on the students they serve.
In addition to the major prizes being announced December 13, semifinalists will receive a $200,000 STOP Award. A new initiative, the Parents Choice Award, powered by the same technology used by American Idol, garnered over 65,000 votes from parents and others closest to the students of each semifinalist. The winner of the Parents Choice Award will receive an additional $100,000 to use to improve programs that further benefit their community.
For more information on the 33 Yass Prize Semifinalists and to tune in to the award announcement visit YassPrize.org.