Start Empathy


School Districts

We are passionate about pioneering ways to re-imagine education to unlock both the head and the heart of students and teachers

Laura Hay |

The world is changing at an accelerated pace. The skill sets in demand to prepare youth for the work force and civil responsibilities in the 21st century go beyond the ability to make calculations or to read. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 65 per-cent of school children will eventually be employed in jobs that have not even been created yet. While universities have started shifting their instruction to center around real-world issues’ problem solving, our public education is failing to train students in those capacities.

Our decades of work in the youth space has allowed us to identify the following three challenges when it comes to re-imagining the education system:
(1)Lack of wellbeing is increasingly a challenge for students and teachers. The education system is not just outdated; test-focused culture has made school increasingly more stressful for educators and students. There is an alarming increase of stress among teens aged 12 to 20 in the U.S.

(2) Despite district efforts to hire more teachers and reinstate programs, the high rate of teacher attrition has not decreased.

(3) Existing models of intervention in education are limited because they do not consider the involvement of all stakeholders. Furthermore, most initiatives today are focused on program implementation instead of culture shift.


Youth Venture and its programs are driven by the belief that in order for children, young people, and adults to thrive in a world where change has become the only constant, they need to master the Changemaking skills of empathy, leadership, teamwork and creative problem solving.

It takes an ecosystem to raise a Changemaker. Changemaking sustains an ecosystem, where not only parents and educators, but also the educational systems at large are supporting young people to address complex issues with innovative solutions. In the coming year, Ashoka is not only working with school districts, but also partnering with teacher training colleges to expand our impact.

The process starts with co-creation. Together with visionary educators, during community gatherings and professional development sessions, we co-create innovative ideas on how they can integrate Changemaking into the mindset, system, and culture of their district. Because of the strong emphasis on co-creation, educators feel a deep sense of ownership over the curriculum they develop and the culture they create.


School Districts: we work with school districts to devise measures to incorporate changes to support innovation at every level

Educators: through workshops and trainings, we help educators discover the meaning of Changemaking in their personal and professional lives.

Students: we create student-initiated educational space for students to develop the skills of empathy, teamwork, leadership, and problem solving.

Parents: we offer Parenting Changemakers workshops and networking opportunities for parents to be ready to support Changemaking in their homes.

Teacher training colleges: we work with teacher training colleges to revamp their training materials, so that new teachers will be ready to infuse Changemaking into their classrooms.


In the first two years, Youth Venture has partnered with Anne Arundel County Public School District (MD), CREC Schools (CT), and Cromwell School District (CT) to introduce the Changemaking Education framework to a total of 100,000 students. After the pilot year, out of a sample of 45 pilot educators in CREC & Cromwell School districts in CT:

  • 100% agreed that Changemaking deepened their sense of purpose and joy in teaching.
  • 94.7% confirmed that practicing Changmaking with their students had a positive effect on their future, academic performance, and how they work with others.
  • 100% believed they had an in-depth understanding of how practicing Changemaking with their students could have a positive effect on how students viewed themselves.
  •  Percentage of educators agreeing that Changemaking education improved the classroom environment increased from 26.9 percent (pre-survey) to 86.8 percent (post-survey).

Out of a sample of 110 middle-school students from Anne Arundel (MD):

67.5% strongly agreed that they could use their own talents and skills to solve problems in their school and community.
62.1% strongly agreed that they felt confident to work in a team.
63% strongly agreed that they could start a project on their own.

Changemaker School districts Brochure

Click “Download” For the Full Version


Related Resources

What Do You Have To Say?

Join the Conversation on #StartEmpathy

Get Updates

Ashoka Fellows: Creative Visionaries Committed to Solving Social Problems

Learn More