The Open Future Institute (OFI) announces it has received $1 million from the Fetzer Institute to build out its QUESTion Project, an evidence-based social-emotional curriculum that empowers students to develop their own identity, strengthen their sense of agency, and build confidence to pursue a life of purpose. The QUESTION Project currently provides teacher training in its curriculum to Title 1 public high schools in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

OFI founders Gerard Senehi and Francesca Rusciani co-created the QUESTion Class curriculum to support public high school students in establishing foundations for their lives, their future, and a healthy society. Through a daily semester-long, credit-bearing class, students explore the empowering nature of choice and build a sense of purpose that can give that choice meaning and direction. OFI has partnered with over 14 US-based high schools, reaching more than 7,500 students. The results have been positive: 95% of high school students who completed the QUESTion Class recorded a positive Empowerment Shift[1], gained confidence in their ability to navigate a path forward through their choices, while becoming more comfortable with an uncertain future.

“The QUESTion Project’s depth and rigor is proving successful in pilots at two of our nation’s most complex and marginalized school systems. Fetzer is drawn to this work for how it allows young people to explore the deep questions of life together in ways that expand a sense of meaning, purpose, and possibility,” commented Fetzer Institute Senior Program Officer Xiaoan Li.

“The QUESTion Project is a powerful piece to a larger puzzle. We aim to instigate long-term change in education and pave the way for a new core subject field – where foundational human and life questions about identity, agency, and purpose are at the heart of the learning process throughout the student’s educational journey, contributing to a foundational piece to the long term well-being of society.”

“What I noticed is a motivation that our kids model now for their peers where they feel that they can become a positive influence on others.  That is a huge shift from some of the teenagers that we’re used to dealing with, they come in and it’s about what you can give me. I feel the kids that went through the QUESTion Project have shifted their paradigm of thinking, and they begin asking themselves what I can give others.” Mr. Ed Tom, Principal, Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics (voted “Principal of the Year” for the Bronx)

Both Fetzer and OFI are creating a movement to re-imagine education and address the fundamental missing piece in education: going beyond skills and competencies and addressing the fundamental humane need.  Addressing today’s global challenge requires new champions at the highest level and new approaches. Both the organizations values collaboration and encourages leaders, and educators interested in being part of this work and vision that creates an outlet student’s humanity in education to join them.

The Fetzer Institute is helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world. It supports this mission by working with thought leaders to develop programs and research projects, and issues grants in sectors including faith and spirituality, democracy, education, and organizational culture.

[1] Currently impact evaluation study led by Stanford University is underway to understand direct correlation between core program and the positive results.