Our Focus

The Jacobs Foundation invests in the future of young people so that they become socially responsible and productive members of society. In order to achieve this goal, children and youth must be given better opportunities for positive development and equitable access to education, whatever their background, place of residence or family income. Learning is crucial for successful and productive human development and key to children’s ability to reach their full potential and fulfil their aspirations.

This is why, as part of our 2030 Strategy, we have pledged to invest 500 million Swiss francs over the next ten years to provide children and youth with effective knowledge, skills, attitudes, tools and equitable opportunities to reach their full learning potential and thrive together.

Factsheet Jacobs Foundation Strategy 2030

Overview Jacobs Foundation

 

Brain development and cognition are guided and organized by cultural, social, emotional, and biological factors that contribute to individual variability in learning abilities and outcomes. These factors influence how much and how well children learn and are able to transfer their learning to new situations. We want to understand and embrace this variability in learning.  

The concepts of individualized and personalized learning and adaptive teaching have a long tradition in educational sciences and pedagogical psychology. Despite this long tradition, there is very little empirical evidence on how individualized learning and adaptive teaching can be implemented in schools, and under what conditions they are effective. Many educational settings fail to take into account individual differences and to foster children’s learning potential. This raises a key question: How is it possible to organize learning for large numbers of students while also responding to their diverse individual needs?  

We want to gain a better understanding of how heterogeneity and individual differences affect learning and we want to explore how these findings can be applied in practice, including by making smart use of educational technologies that offer new perspectives for both implementation and empirical investigation.  

Our approach 

The Learning Minds portfolio combines rigorous research, social innovation, and entrepreneurship on a global scale to strengthen the global research and evidence base and shape the future of learning and development.  

We draw on our years of experience in convening and supporting the most brilliant minds to create new partnerships, streams of collaborations, and cross-sectoral groups that drive new ideas and solutions around human learning – all while nurturing an international network of leading experts in child development and learning.

The Learning Minds portfolio bases its work on rigorous and state of the art evidence and creates global and local coalitions around the most important issues of child development and learning. This is achieved through the following programs: the Jacobs Foundation Conference, the Klaus J. Jacobs Awards, the Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship, and the Jacobs Network.

Students enter school with a vast range of individual differences in cognitive, emotional, and social skills, which together determine how well and how quickly they will learn. Because variability in learning emerges early on, we focus on understanding learning differences during the early years and the transition to primary education. However, it is not only at the start of school that students differ in their learning. Throughout the grades, teachers are confronted with diverse needs, which constantly change as students develop over time.  

In the face of radical societal transformations, learning settings and educational systems throughout the world often fail to foster children’s individual learning potential. Teaching methods and tools vary greatly, depending on such factors as a country’s resources and teacher training system, among others. In a high-resource context like Switzerland, the public education system is quite effective at strengthening basic cognitive skills, but often falls short when it comes to accommodating individual learners’ needs. In low-resource settings such as Côte d’Ivoire, tailoring instruction to individual differences seems to be the most effective approach for increasing overall student performance, as demonstrated by one of our most successful programs, run by Teaching at the Right Level (TarL).

Our approach

With our focus on Learning Schools, we support schools to succeed by generating and applying evidence, and by sharing best practices. Working with private and public schools and researchers, both globally and locally, we explore the frontiers of learning and rigorously test and further develop promising approaches. We codify best practices in teaching and school management, and systematically support schools, authorities, companies, and other education providers in applying these best practices.  

Our goal is to foster a global schools system that facilitates the generation and dissemination of research and best practices, strengthens knowledge exchange between schools within and across school networks and countries, and uses evidence in decision-making about the uptake of innovations and technology to fully harness variability in learning. 

By 2030, we aim to reach 10% of the world`s schools – approximately 500,000 institutions – by supporting a strengthened community of school leaders who learn, collaborate, and leverage resources in order to mainstream the use of evidence-informed practices. 

The Learning Schools portfolio consists of three inter-connected programs implemented globally and in several target geographies: School Evidence for Adaptive Learning (SEAL) to strengthen the generation and use of rigorous scientific evidence by school practitioners; the School Knowledge and Innovation Learning Lab (SKILL) to identify, codify, and disseminate evidence-informed school innovations; Scientific Capital (SciCap) to promote evidence-informed decisions among EdTech investors, policymakers, and customers.

Learning always takes place within a broader context. Individuals and institutions interact, learn, and evolve continuously in their respective societies. Societies develop systems, such as education systems, to promote individual development, and to safeguard their progress and future. These systems do not always work as intended.

A systems-change approach provides for the greatest impact in child and youth development and for societies at large. This is what we have learned from our TRECC program in Côte d’Ivoire and our Early Childhood program in Switzerland. While the knowledge, capacities, and resources needed to change educational systems often exist, they are diffused and spread across policymakers, the private sector, researchers, community groups, schools, service-delivery organizations, advocacy groups, funders, and investors in different regions.

Connecting the relevant entities and building fields is a pathway for joining these fragmented actors. This means convening a critical mass of organizations and partners to work together and to leverage resources to achieve the intended change as a field, rather than individually or as a single stakeholder.

Our approach

With our focus on Learning Societies, we promote evidence-informed decision-making in public policy and corporate practices in selected countries. The Learning Societies portfolio aims to create trustful and dynamic multi-stakeholder communities in target geographies who are generating and using evidence, mobilizing resources, and continuously improving their system with effective programs, policies and practices. 

We initiate multi-stakeholder coalitions in an effort to leverage and aggregate resources, aligning public and private agendas. We increase the knowledge, capacity, and willingness of governments, industry, schools, and social purpose organizations to advocate for, design, deliver, and jointly scale up effective education policies and interventions. In this context, we continue to use grant-matching mechanisms and innovative financing facilities, and our TRECC program serves as a blueprint for future collaboration.

Building on approaches developed and tested within TRECC and the Jacobs Foundation’s early childhood program, the Learning Societies portfolio includes three interconnected and mutually-reinforcing programs: the Evidence for Policy & Practice Program to promote the generation and use of research and best practice by education stakeholders in target geographies; the Building Partnerships & Practice Program to foster a dynamic community of diverse stakeholders who are learning and driving systemic change together; and the Scaling Through Systems Program to promote access to catalytic resources that drive policy and systemic changes.

Learning Minds

Brain development and cognition are guided and organized by cultural, social, emotional, and biological factors that contribute to individual variability in learning abilities and outcomes. These factors influence how much and how well children learn and are able to transfer their learning to new situations. We want to understand and embrace this variability in learning.  

The concepts of individualized and personalized learning and adaptive teaching have a long tradition in educational sciences and pedagogical psychology. Despite this long tradition, there is very little empirical evidence on how individualized learning and adaptive teaching can be implemented in schools, and under what conditions they are effective. Many educational settings fail to take into account individual differences and to foster children’s learning potential. This raises a key question: How is it possible to organize learning for large numbers of students while also responding to their diverse individual needs?  

We want to gain a better understanding of how heterogeneity and individual differences affect learning and we want to explore how these findings can be applied in practice, including by making smart use of educational technologies that offer new perspectives for both implementation and empirical investigation.  

Our approach 

The Learning Minds portfolio combines rigorous research, social innovation, and entrepreneurship on a global scale to strengthen the global research and evidence base and shape the future of learning and development.  

We draw on our years of experience in convening and supporting the most brilliant minds to create new partnerships, streams of collaborations, and cross-sectoral groups that drive new ideas and solutions around human learning – all while nurturing an international network of leading experts in child development and learning.

The Learning Minds portfolio bases its work on rigorous and state of the art evidence and creates global and local coalitions around the most important issues of child development and learning. This is achieved through the following programs: the Jacobs Foundation Conference, the Klaus J. Jacobs Awards, the Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship, and the Jacobs Network.

Learning Schools

Students enter school with a vast range of individual differences in cognitive, emotional, and social skills, which together determine how well and how quickly they will learn. Because variability in learning emerges early on, we focus on understanding learning differences during the early years and the transition to primary education. However, it is not only at the start of school that students differ in their learning. Throughout the grades, teachers are confronted with diverse needs, which constantly change as students develop over time.  

In the face of radical societal transformations, learning settings and educational systems throughout the world often fail to foster children’s individual learning potential. Teaching methods and tools vary greatly, depending on such factors as a country’s resources and teacher training system, among others. In a high-resource context like Switzerland, the public education system is quite effective at strengthening basic cognitive skills, but often falls short when it comes to accommodating individual learners’ needs. In low-resource settings such as Côte d’Ivoire, tailoring instruction to individual differences seems to be the most effective approach for increasing overall student performance, as demonstrated by one of our most successful programs, run by Teaching at the Right Level (TarL).

Our approach

With our focus on Learning Schools, we support schools to succeed by generating and applying evidence, and by sharing best practices. Working with private and public schools and researchers, both globally and locally, we explore the frontiers of learning and rigorously test and further develop promising approaches. We codify best practices in teaching and school management, and systematically support schools, authorities, companies, and other education providers in applying these best practices.  

Our goal is to foster a global schools system that facilitates the generation and dissemination of research and best practices, strengthens knowledge exchange between schools within and across school networks and countries, and uses evidence in decision-making about the uptake of innovations and technology to fully harness variability in learning. 

By 2030, we aim to reach 10% of the world`s schools – approximately 500,000 institutions – by supporting a strengthened community of school leaders who learn, collaborate, and leverage resources in order to mainstream the use of evidence-informed practices. 

The Learning Schools portfolio consists of three inter-connected programs implemented globally and in several target geographies: School Evidence for Adaptive Learning (SEAL) to strengthen the generation and use of rigorous scientific evidence by school practitioners; the School Knowledge and Innovation Learning Lab (SKILL) to identify, codify, and disseminate evidence-informed school innovations; Scientific Capital (SciCap) to promote evidence-informed decisions among EdTech investors, policymakers, and customers.

Learning Societies

Learning always takes place within a broader context. Individuals and institutions interact, learn, and evolve continuously in their respective societies. Societies develop systems, such as education systems, to promote individual development, and to safeguard their progress and future. These systems do not always work as intended.

A systems-change approach provides for the greatest impact in child and youth development and for societies at large. This is what we have learned from our TRECC program in Côte d’Ivoire and our Early Childhood program in Switzerland. While the knowledge, capacities, and resources needed to change educational systems often exist, they are diffused and spread across policymakers, the private sector, researchers, community groups, schools, service-delivery organizations, advocacy groups, funders, and investors in different regions.

Connecting the relevant entities and building fields is a pathway for joining these fragmented actors. This means convening a critical mass of organizations and partners to work together and to leverage resources to achieve the intended change as a field, rather than individually or as a single stakeholder.

Our approach

With our focus on Learning Societies, we promote evidence-informed decision-making in public policy and corporate practices in selected countries. The Learning Societies portfolio aims to create trustful and dynamic multi-stakeholder communities in target geographies who are generating and using evidence, mobilizing resources, and continuously improving their system with effective programs, policies and practices. 

We initiate multi-stakeholder coalitions in an effort to leverage and aggregate resources, aligning public and private agendas. We increase the knowledge, capacity, and willingness of governments, industry, schools, and social purpose organizations to advocate for, design, deliver, and jointly scale up effective education policies and interventions. In this context, we continue to use grant-matching mechanisms and innovative financing facilities, and our TRECC program serves as a blueprint for future collaboration.

Building on approaches developed and tested within TRECC and the Jacobs Foundation’s early childhood program, the Learning Societies portfolio includes three interconnected and mutually-reinforcing programs: the Evidence for Policy & Practice Program to promote the generation and use of research and best practice by education stakeholders in target geographies; the Building Partnerships & Practice Program to foster a dynamic community of diverse stakeholders who are learning and driving systemic change together; and the Scaling Through Systems Program to promote access to catalytic resources that drive policy and systemic changes.

ABOUT THE JACOBS FOUNDATION

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