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Innovation for All

It’s time to challenge the assumption that innovation is something education is not.

Who does innovation look like? Does it look like a young man in Silicon Valley with a tech start-up? Or a business mogul introducing a new revolutionary gadget?

In education, innovation is a teacher developing a new strategy to inspire a child to read. Innovation is a principal redesigning her school to bring in community partners.

However, innovation has not been education’s hallmark. Despite the many inspirational stories of innovation that occur every day in schools, education is not seen as an innovation engine.

That is changing.

This week, Digital Promise hosted the Education Innovation Clusters convening at the Kauffman Foundation to bring together edupreneurs (entrepreneurs innovating in the education space) from across the country who are working collaboratively in their local communities to scale up education innovation.

A major theme at the convening – in step with the work happening in Kansas City – was redefining innovation from the perspective of the community and youth. The Kauffman Foundation is committed to broadening the table so that youth, families, and community leaders can work together with educators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to define what education innovation means for the Kansas City metropolitan area.

“Hearing more voices, pulling from diverse perspectives, that is where we can best improve,” said cluster attendee Michael Crawford, director of strategy and partnerships at Real World Scholars. “That’s the kind of work we need to be doing to be equitable and innovative.”

It is time to challenge assumptions that innovation is narrowly defined to a specific ideal. Who is the face of innovation? It includes those working with urgency to prepare all children for the future of learning and work. Learning together will form solutions that can create real change.