How would schools need to change in order for every student to master the skill of empathy as readily as they learn to read and write? How would organizations need to change in order for every employee to develop the capacity to think more empathetically and innovatively? And if such a shift were brought about, how might each of us start to see the world – and our role in improving it – differently?
Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative is a collaborative platform for social entrepreneurs, educators, and concerned citizens whose ideas and talents can contribute to the creation of a world where every child masters empathy. Through this platform, we are mobilizing a global “team of teams” to collaborate toward realizing a society in which empathy learning is as fundamental as reading and math in early education, where parents insist that their children develop empathy, where institutions cultivate empathy learning and practice.
There are three core components to our strategy:
1. Accelerate Empathy Entrepreneurs. Ashoka has a critical mass of Fellows who are currently working with children and young people, as well as many others whose innovations contribute to a more empathetic society. We are mobilizing this community to collaborate toward the vision of a world where every child masters empathy and identifying and electing new Ashoka Fellows who are developing pattern-changing models that will cultivate deeper collective capacities for empathy across society.
2. Tip Elementary, Middle and High Schools. Ashoka is identifying influential elementary schools and school networks—public, public charter, and private—that are ready to help lead this transformation in education. The Initiative is collaborating with these schools to develop and showcase models of school environments that integrate empathy as a core learning objective and strategy. With these model schools and the Initiative’s other partners, we seek to inspire and enable other schools to clearly identify, and then assess, the habits and skills young people need to be effective, solution-oriented, empathetic citizens.
3. Change the Conversation. Creating a world in which every child masters empathy as readily as they do math or reading will not be the work of one or two players in education, or even a few hundred. It demands all of us. Ashoka seeks to catalyze a shift in mindset across society, helping educators, parents, and others understand more clearly what success looks like in today’s rapidly changing world, and why it’s essential that children grow up mastering empathy and other skills that will enable them to be effective changemakers throughout their adult lives.