Building Pathways out of Adversity

Our goal is to create pathways out of adversity for the world’s most vulnerable children. In 25 countries, we leverage evidence-based innovations to develop effective Whole Child Development (WCD) approaches to not only advance children’s academic achievement, but also create safe, supportive, and equitable family, school, and community environments. 

Working with partners across the research-practice-policy spectrum, we iteratively develop and test WCD approaches, translating evidence into impactful programs. Our approach focuses on the relationships and settings that are most important in the lives of children and youth. By aligning knowledge, attitudes, practices, and policies within and across these settings – like the home, school, and community – we focus on how to best activate the systems which foster resilience and justice for children. We then use this learning and knowledge to advance policies which improve the lives and outcomes of children.

What do we do?

In our “dig-in deep,” or flagship country programs, we begin with a limited number of innovation school communities where we support partners with program design, training, and rapid assessment methods. This incubation period is followed by a limited scale-up to early adopter school communities; in these communities we invest in promising practices and prune less-effective ones. We conduct formal efficacy studies and randomized control trials when Whole Child Development (WCD) approaches are sufficiently mature, followed by evidence driven scaling system-wide. This research-to-action cycle comes full circle through dissemination of our learning through technical and non-technical resources, prioritizing the use of this learning by our community partners.

We also undertake applied research projects to build the evidence base on WCD. These education research projects are focused on different settings and relationships around the child but they all have a common focus: how do we activate the system around the child to best support WCD? Our research is driven by three key principles. 

  • Appropriateness: whether findings meet the contextual, cultural, and developmental needs of children and their families.
  • Utility: whether research will be useful to make reasonable decisions about an education or social program for children.
  • Feasibility: whether the proposed evidence-based solution is doable given the logistical, operational, and systematic limitations that are in place.



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