Improving education opportunities for students has always been at the heart of our work. Though our mission has shifted slightly since our founding in 2000, as has the way we deliver services to adapt to current trends and needs, our focus has remained the same: empowering district leaders, teachers and students to achieve their highest potential.

Although personalized learning became a stated part of the KnowledgeWorks vision and mission in 2013, the underpinnings of personalized learning have existed at KnowledgeWorks since our inception. From our work restructuring large, impersonal high schools into small schools that offered personalized education in the early 2000s, to the use of data and continuous improvement at the district and school levels to improve student achievement in communities in the 2010s, to partnering with states, districts and communities to help them realize their vision for personalized learning today, KnowledgeWorks has always sought to put the student at the center of our work.

We have also recognized that students can’t prepare for college and the careers of tomorrow without understanding what the future will require of them. Since 2006, we have been engaged in a disciplined study of the trends shaping the future of education. We started developing forecasts of the future of learning, examining possible futures and exploring actions that learning communities can take today to shape the future that they want for their graduates. We came to see that our factory-era education system had to be turned on its head. Instead of focusing on the needs of the institution, schools needed to put learners at the center and create environments that fostered growth mindset, the cultivation of essential social-emotional skills and student agency, providing opportunities for learners to demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways and make meaningful connections with what they are learning.

As we have embraced an organizational vision for meaningful, personalized learning, KnowledgeWorks has leveraged more than 20 years of experience and thinking across our portfolio to create a unique and focused point of view on personalized, competency-based learning, and national leaders are listening. KnowledgeWorks entered the national conversation about personalized, competency-based education behind a concentration of thoughtful policy briefs focused on federal policy reform, aligned advocacy and partner engagement, backed by foresight and research. This body of work, combined with our on-the-ground understanding of schools and communities, has helped KnowledgeWorks become a trusted resource for policymakers and other organizations interested in moving to a personalized, competency-based education system.

Key milestones

  • 2002: Created EDWorks to run the Ohio High School Transformation Initiative (OHSTI), a statewide effort focused on providing a high-quality high school education for students in some of Ohio’s most underserved communities
  • 2006: Published the first Future Forecast, Map of Future Forces, which looked at the future of learning
  • 2006: Established StrivePartnership, a community-based organization in the Cincinnati area focused on supporting students from Cradle to Career
  • 2007: Awarded $7.4 million from the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen the work of the OHSTI
  • 2009: Acquired New Tech Network, a school-based organization that helped established schools with project-based learning environments across the country
  • 2010: Published the second Future Forecast, 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning, which revealed how our fundamental relationships were being reimagined and recreated in ways that would disrupt the status quo
  • 2010: Expanded the reach of StrivePartnership by forming a national organization called StriveTogether, which helped create communities focused on collective impact
  • 2012: Published the third Future Forecast, Forecast 3.0: Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem, which previewed five disruptions that would reshape learning over the next decade and laid the groundwork for an increased focus on personalized learning
  • 2012: Published Transforming to a World of Learning: A Federal Policy Agenda, which informs thought leaders about the policy conditions critical to a world of learning
  • 2013: Published High School Race to the Top: 10 Essential Elements for High School Reform and College and Career Ready Success, which provides an overview of the 10 Essential Elements for high school reform as well as real-world examples from schools and educators working to implement these innovative concepts
  • 2014: Spun off New Tech Network as a standalone organization focused on continuing and expanding its success with project-based learning
  • 2014: Partnered with iNACOL to publish A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education, which provides federal policymakers and advocates with comprehensive, big-picture ideas for transforming federal policy to support the transition to competency-based learning
  • 2014: Published District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide for Scaling Personalized Learning, which identifies the conditions for scale that exist at a district level
  • 2015: Published our fourth Future Forecast, The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code, which explored provocations at the intersection of three impact layers and five drivers of change
  • 2015: Published A State Policy Framework for Scaling Personalized Learning©, which  guides states and districts in working together to create flexibility to support scaling personalized learning.
  • 2016: EDWorks subsumed into the KnowledgeWorks offerings for personalizing learning in schools using competency-based education and early college high school
  • 2016: Published The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers©, based on interviews with teachers, instructional coaches and principals across the country
  • 2016: Published Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration, which  provides four sets of federal recommendations for enabling personalized learning at scale, including detailed strategies to help the Administration create a robust education policy platform
  • 2017: Released an interactive map, ESSA and Personalized Learning: State by State. A Nationwide Look at State Strategies to Advance Personalized Learning©
  • 2017: Spun off StriveTogether as a standalone organization focused on continuing and expanding its success with collective impact
  • 2018: Published our fifth Future Forecast, Navigating the Future of Learning, which explored five drivers of change that will impact learning over the next decade and imagined what those drivers of change could mean for education
  • 2019: Published the State Policy Framework for Personalized Learning, which helps states build awareness of what it will take to evolve policy systems to ensure personalized learning opportunities for all students
  • 2020: Spun off StrivePartnership, an organization focused on collective impact in the Greater Cincinnati community.
  • 2022: Published our sixth Future Forecast, Imagining Liberatory Education Futures, which uses four scenarios to examine how liberatory education can exist in their environments.