Too often today, learning is disconnected from young people’s interests and goals, as well as from the real professional, personal, and societal challenges and endeavors they will encounter in life. This one-size-fits all approach is typically highly standardized, reflects a singular way of thinking and living in society, and separates learners from real-world problems and contexts. Relevance is often more acutely lacking for young people who don’t see themselves in the content, examples, people, and practices elevated in most schools’ curriculum. If school is going to support all learners in achieving their goals and shaping the future, it’s critical that it explores young people’s interests and goals, is connected to their communities, and enables them to understand and tackle real problems in authentic contexts.


When learning is truly relevant, it takes into account students’ unique life experiences, who they are as individuals, and who they want to become. Relevance supports learning and development by increasing student motivation; learners see more value in learning about topics connected to their interests and goals and, as a result, will be more engaged and invested. In addition, relevance makes what is learned more memorable because young people can connect new ideas to prior knowledge and experiences. Relevance also helps learners feel a sense of belonging and connection, which promotes mindsets that are conducive to learning. When school is relevant to all learners, and leverages high-value, balanced curriculum, then every young person has a greater opportunity to thrive. 

This Leap Means…

  • Learners tackling activities and content that feel compelling and connect to their unique backgrounds, interests, and goals.
  • Learners referencing their prior knowledge when engaging in activities.
  • Learners engaging in learning experiences that relate to their life outside of the classroom and integrate their home cultures and communities.
  • Learners grappling with problems that have authentic, real-world applications and purpose.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.

Oprah Winfrey


Big Picture Learning (Grades K-12)
The Big Picture Learning school design activates deeper student engagement in learning by using interest-driven, real-world contexts as its pedagogical foundation.

Embark Education (Grades 6-8)
The Embark Education model supports students to courageously inquire, engage, and discover a sense of self in an environment that is learner-centered, integrated, and embedded in real-world contexts.

Greenfield Expeditions from Achievement First Greenfield Schools (Grades K-8)
Greenfield Expeditions engage students in hands-on, real-world learning experiences that allow them to deeply explore careers and passions while building their self-awareness, community engagement, sense of pride, and personal why.

Project-Based Learning from The Robertson Center at Success Academy (Grades K-4)
Success Academy’s project-based learning units inspire students to become experts in a fascinating subject. Through real-world experiences and immersive lessons and activities, learners develop literacy skills and become strong and curious thinkers.

Transcend is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates nationally.