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Changemaker School Selection Criteria

We look for schools of all age levels, types, geographies, and demographics with the following characteristics:

Everyone a Changemaker Alignment: Changemaker Schools, in both aspiration and practice, cultivate students as changemakers. They are vision-oriented and focused on the “who” rather than the “what,” developing children as active contributors rather than passive recipients. They have high standards of excellence for students, teachers, and staff alike. They are also making the development of empathy a priority in their curricula, culture, and systems. They may be far advanced in these efforts or just beginning, but school leadership is committed to an aligned vision and has taken steps in pursuit of it.

Innovation: Changemaker Schools are innovating. They have demonstrated their ability and willingness to develop and test new ideas rather than just following established norms. The school leadership fosters a culture of innovation at the school.

Influence: Changemaker Schools have the authority, reputation, and relevance needed to influence others in the education sector. There is no singular measure of influence, but Changemaker Schools—whether public, charter, independent, large, small, urban, rural, low-income, or affluent—all have clear aspiration and either the demonstrated capacity or obvious potential to attract others to follow their lead.

Change Leader and Change Team: Changemaker Schools have an individual change leader within the school who has the vision and characteristics to effectively guide institutional change, and to lead a cross-stakeholder change team, which may include teachers, parents, students, staff and/or community members. This team is committed to working with the change leader to highlight and advance the school’s efforts to ensure that students develop the skill of empathy.

Selection Process

  1. Nomination: ​A network of experienced individuals involved in the education sector, Ashoka Fellows, and Ashoka partners nominate schools explaining why they are well -fit candidates. Schools may self ­nominate.
  2. Exploration: ​The school and Ashoka get to know each other via conversations with either an Ashoka staff member or a peer educator from the Changemaker School Network.
  3. Self-Evaluation:​ The Change Leader and Change team completes a set of reflective questions about their work in relation to your school’s fit with the selection criteria. The purpose of this exercise is for the Change Team to have the opportunity to reflect on their work through a changemaking lens and to assess the whole ecosystem of changemaking at the school.
  4. Site Visit: A half­ day visit by Ashoka to your school. This is a time for the Ashoka Empathy team to meet with key champions at your school and for you to share how you are creating a culture where children are empathetic leaders, capable of working in teams to solve problems. Schools have the opportunity to demonstrate the changemaking culture they’ve created on campus to Ashoka/community guests and convene area partners that amplify your school’s influence.
  5. Panel: ​The candidate school has individual conversations with three other leaders from within the Ashoka network—drawn from Ashoka Fellows, staff, Youth Venturers, business entrepreneurs, university leaders, and others—to better understand the school, exchange ideas, and evaluate a fit with the criteria.