Canada: Nominate a Changemaker School

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Do you know a school in the greater Vancouver, Kitchener-Waterloo, or Montreal area committed to developing empathy in its students?
Where teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving are part of the school culture? If yes, then we’d like to know about it.


What are Changemaker Schools?

The Changemaker Schools Network is a global community of leading elementary, middle, and high schools that prioritize empathy, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving as learning outcomes. These schools are leading a transformation in education that supports children as changemakers – individuals with the skill set and connection to purpose that enable them to generate ideas and take initiative to effectively solve problems and drive positive change.

Over the last three years, Ashoka has built a network of over 200 schools around the world that are cultivating changemaking skills in their students. We have begun our search across Canada to find schools that meet our rigorous standards, to join our dynamic network. Currently, we are looking to select schools in the greater Vancouver, Kitchener-Waterloo, or Montreal areas - if you know a great school in one of those regions that you feel fits our selection criteria, nominate it below.


CMS Rose Avenue
Students at Canada's first public Changemaker school, Rose Avenue PS. Photo: Carlos Osario/Toronto Star.

What are the 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 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 leadership fosters a culture of innovation in 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 & Change Team: Changemaker Schools have an individual change leader within the school, who has the vision and characteristics to effectively guide institutional change, and leads 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 students develop the skill of empathy.


Why Changemaker Schools?

We live in a world of unprecedented change, complexity and uncertainty. A child born today will live their life in a radically different world to that of any human in the history of our species. For the entirety of their life, they will face an accelerating stream of new situations, novel challenges and fleeting opportunities.

Changemakers are a people with the skill set and connection to purpose that enable them to take initiative to positively contribute in a world of constant change, while doing the least harm and most good for others. As empathy is foundational to changemaking, every child must master empathy. Ashoka’s mission is to trigger a shift in mindsets across education systems so that the experience of education empowers every young person to be a changemaker. Changemaker Schools are schools at the forefront of this education shift.

How exactly are we building the Changemaker Schools Network?

We are bringing together schools, social entrepreneurs and other pioneers to build a dynamic network that: 

  • recognises shared purpose and complementarity 

  • shares insights and good practices from around the world 

  • agrees on the critical paths that are essential to shifting the experience of education for young people

We want to live in a world in which every young person grows up to become a changemaker: a world in which everyone knows they can change the world for the better... And does so.  

For more information about our Changemaker Schools network in Canada and abroad, please contact Amy Satterthwaite, Director of Empathy and Changemaker Schools.

You can also visit the global Changemaker Schools website, the Start Empathy website (featuring Changemaker Schools in the USA).


This article was originally published on September 26, 2016
Related TopicsChildren & Youth, Education / Learning, Every Child Practicing Empathy


Amy Satterthwaite

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