In April, the Fordham Institute and the Center for American Progress announced a joint project, dubbed “A Moonshot for Kids,” intended to explore “the rationale, potential, and possible design of a sizable new investment in basic and applied research and development that leads to innovation on behalf of America’s children.”

The premise of the initiative is that the U.S. will only make significant gains in real outcomes if it develops and deploys bold new—sizable and scalable—evidence-based approaches that build on the best ideas from the private, public, and non-profit sectors.

Today, we’re pleased to launch the centerpiece of the project: a competition to unearth examples of such bold, new, evidence-based ideas. We are seeking the equivalent of education’s self-driving car, i.e., an idea that will revolutionize schooling. The examples we seek should not be policy proposals. Instead, we aim to collect applied research and development ideas that will unleash innovation, support educators—and dramatically improve student outcomes. What is a technological or developmental effort that will spark game-changing differences in student learning?

Now’s your chance to shoot for the moon—and even beyond.

If you’re tempted—and we hope that you will be—here’s the plan:

  • By August 1, 2019, submit a brief application through our online portal. We are seeking ideas that would help the U.S. achieve one of the following big goals (your choice):
    • Cut in half the number of fourth graders reading “below basic”
    • Double the number of eighth graders who can write an effective persuasive essay
    • Shrink by 30 percent the average time a student spends in English-language-learner status
    • Double the amount of high-quality feedback the average middle schooler receives on their academic work
    • Ensure that every student receives high-quality college and career advising by ninth grade
    • Double the number of students from low-income families and students of color who graduate from high school with remediation-free scores on the SAT, ACT, or similar exams
    • Double the number of young women who major in STEM fields

The portal provides a place where, in no more than 500 words, you will sketch your idea for achieving one of those goals with the help of a public or private investment up to $1 billion.

  • By September 10, 2019, the Fordham and CAP teams will select 10 finalists, who will each receive $1,000 and be asked to flesh out their ideas in greater detail (up to 2,500 words).
  • In October or November, we’ll host a “Shark Tank” style competition in Washington, D.C., to submit the ideas to the scrutiny of a panel of judges, including educators and senior staff of large national foundations, who will pick a winner, and award a $10,000 grand prize.

We will also endeavor to call attention to the winning idea—and perhaps some of the other finalist submissions—in such a way that national political and philanthropic leaders will seize upon it. Perhaps one of the presidential contenders will be shopping for moonshot ideas themselves.

So get those juices flowing. Think big, think bold, and shoot for the moon. Submit your proposal here.


Fordham Institute logo.   Center for American Progress logo

Mike Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Education Commission of the States. An award-winning writer, he…

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