Ashoka Changemaker Schools

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Ashoka is selecting and partnering with schools across the world that are ready and able to help lead a transformation in education, such that children grow up prepared to thrive in a world of accelerating change.

Ashoka’s Changemaker Schools Network is a community of leading schools that prioritize empathy and changemaking as student outcomes. Through innovations in school curricula, culture, and systems, these schools are pioneering how education can cultivate children as changemakers. Ashoka is identifying, selecting, and collaborating with these leading schools to enhance and amplify their models and collectively identify and address the challenges to making such an education a reality for all children. By connecting Changemaker Schools with each other and the broader Ashoka network, highlighting their efforts, and distilling and broadcasting their core strategies, we seek to accelerate these schools’ leadership in transforming education.

Ashoka launched the Changemaker Schools Network in July 2012. To date, we have selected our first 54 Changemaker Schools in the United States, with Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia getting ready to follow suit.

Selection Criteria

We’re looking for schools or school networks of all types, geographies, and demographics that have the following characteristics:

Everyone a Changemaker Alignment. Changemaker Schools, in aspiration and practice, are cultivating all of their students as changemakers. They are vision-oriented and focused on the “who” rather than the “what,” developing all children as active contributors rather than passive recipients. They have high standards of excellence for students, teachers and staff alike. And they are making the development of empathy a priority in their curricula, culture, and systems. They may be far advanced in these efforts or just beginning, but school leadership is committed to an aligned vision and has taken steps in pursuit of it.

Innovation. Changemaker Schools are innovating. They have demonstrated their ability and willingness to develop and test new ideas, rather than just following established norms. And leadership fosters a culture of innovation in the school.

Influence. Changemaker Schools have the authority, reputation and relevance needed to influence others in the education sector. There is no singular measure of influence, but Changemaker Schools—whether public, charter, independent, large, small, urban, rural, low-income, or affluent—all have clear aspiration and either the demonstrated capacity or obvious potential to get others to follow their lead.

Changemakers. Changemaker Schools all have a Change Team, comprised of teachers, administrators, parents, students and/or other school staff who are entrepreneurial, collegial, ethical and share the Everyone a Changemaker vision. This team must also demonstrate commitment to realizing the vision in their own school and beyond and a willingness to equally share their own experiences and learn from what others have done.

Selection Process

Changemaker Schools are selected through a process adapted from Ashoka’s Fellow selection process. It consists of four stages designed to create value by engaging the experience of leading schools with Ashoka’s social change knowledge and network. A decision about fit with the criteria and advancement to the next stage is made after each of the four stages.

  1. Nomination. Ashoka’s network nominates schools and individuals. Schools may self-nominate.
  2. Exploration. Ashoka evaluates the nomination against the selection criteria, checks references, and interviews stakeholders and the Change Team. During a site visit, the school and Ashoka get to know each other, exploring whether there might be a mutual fit.
  3. Self-Evaluation. The school and Change Team complete a comprehensive set of reflective questions about their work.
  4. Panel. The Change Team has individual interviews with three other leaders from within the global Ashoka network—drawn from Ashoka Fellows, staff, Youth Venturers, business entrepreneurs, university leaders and others—to better understand the school, exchange ideas and evaluate a fit with the criteria. The panel decides in consensus whether or not to select the school.


After the selection process, each Changemaker School works with an Ashoka staff member to create a customized plan for how the Changemaker Schools Network, as well as other parts of Ashoka, can add value to the school’s efforts and vice versa. Ashoka has three primary value-add goals with each school change team it selects:

  1. Help them to grow in their own identity as changemakers and to advance the changemaking work in their school, e.g. connecting them with Ashoka Fellows and other parts of the Ashoka network to catalyze new ideas or create new opportunities at their school;
  2. Help them to distill and share their school’s strategies and innovations and to position their leadership in the field, e.g. connecting them to mavens, media, or other strategic opportunities to share their changemaking work;
  3. Facilitate connections and collaborations across the network of schools and our broader team of teams to strategically identify and seize opportunities, or address barriers, to advance changemaker education for all children, e.g. connecting schools within a metro area to influence the local education system or connecting them with researchers to help develop new metrics for empathy and changemaking.