Laurene Powell Jobs launches $50 million project for new high schools

If you could create a new kind of high school, what would it be like? Laurene Powell Jobs wants to know, and she has committed $50 million to a project to build new schools based on the public’s ideas.

Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, is continuing her work on education with the launch today of XQ: The Super School Project, which is soliciting ideas for rethinking high schools over the next several months. Proposals are expected to come from teams of teachers, students, business leaders, entrepreneurs and others. Judges will decide next fall which five to 10 schools will be funded over the next five years.

Exactly where those schools will be built will be determined by the submissions, an XQ representative told us.

Part of the process will include gathering feedback about what students want from their schools — new technology, a revamped curriculum? — and passing that on to the applicants. The roadshow begins tomorrow in a public library in New York and will make its way to Washington, D.C., Jackson, Miss., New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles. The roadshow also will bring its “Rethink Booth” — discussions about rethinking education, which will include student roundtables — to Oakland on Nov. 4.

Powell Jobs has long been known for her work on education, including co-founding and funding College Track, which helps low-income students prepare and pay for college. But the XQ project, Powell Jobs told the New York Times, aims to “start from scratch.” She told the newspaper that she wants the schools to be public schools.

The XQ Institute’s CEO, Russlyn Ali, was assistant secretary for civil rights at the United States Education Department. She also is managing director of the Emerson Collective, the organization that funds Powell Jobs’ philanthropy. Some notable names and partners of the Super Schools Project include musician Yo Yo Ma, The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) and the education company Amplify, whose CEO is Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.


Photo: Laurene Powell Jobs in 2013. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Jeffrey Fry

    Well done and best of luck Laurene Powell Jobs <3