Deeper Learning


While the job market in the United States has changed significantly, our K-12 classrooms operate in the same way as they did in the industrial era of the early 1900s. When today’s students graduate, the most valuable skill sets they can bring to the jobs of tomorrow go beyond basic math and English skills.

The Hewlett Foundation seeks to help student compete globally and become engaged citizens at home. To that end, we work to align K-12 schools in the U.S. to deliver and measure deeper learning—a set of six interrelated competencies: mastering rigorous academic content, learning how to think critically and solve problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, directing one’s own learning, and developing an academic mindset — a belief in one’s ability to grow.


Resetting learning goals

Refocus schools on building deeper learning competencies by supporting policy reform to improve education goals, assessment, accountability and practice. This includes engaging a community of researchers, policy leaders, and advocates to support such reform. We are also committed to supporting the quality and capacity of education in California.

Strengthening assessment

Help teachers use classroom-based formative and performance assessments to improve their practice, providing teachers and students with real-time, actionable feedback. We support these alongside a broader system of assessments, including summative tests, to measure and impact student learning.

Scaling teaching practices

Promote the creation and demand for high-quality instructional materials, and foster a community of practitioners that can test and demonstrate innovative teaching practices with the potential to scale. We pay particular attention to serving historically disadvantaged communities.

Establishing a research base

Invest in research to determine whether, how, and under what conditions deeper learning improves the lives, long-term career potential, and civic engagement of young people. This includes research on dispositions that are difficult to measure.

Ideas + Practice


The modern world demands more knowledge and skills than ever before. To become engaged citizens and to succeed in college and careers, our kids will need to focus on English and Math alongside social skills and academic mindsets.

Barbara Chow, Program Director

Our Grantmaking

Jobs for the Future
for analysis, forums, and dissemination of research and models of policy innovation
Alliance for Excellent Education
for general operating support
New Venture Fund
for support of the Collaborative for Student Success
Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation
for support of school districts' community outreach and the Local Control and Accountability Plans

Our Team

Christopher Shearer
Christopher Shearer 
Acting Program Director
Armine Avetisyan 
Program Associate
Marc Chun 
Program Officer
Kevin Crouch 
Program Fellow
Neha Singh Gohil 
Communications Officer
Laura Kimura
Laura Kimura 
Grants Officer
Khym Redford [Headshot]
Khym Redford 
Program Associate
Marcelle Trethewey 
Program Associate
Denis Udall 
Program Officer

Learn more

Imagine an eighth-grade classroom in a public school where students are building wind turbines to generate electricity. They had to redesign the blades several times, but they persevered, inspired by the story of a Malawian man who built a wind turbine out of scrap metal for his village. The students in this classroom are engaged in deeper learning. They are drawing on knowledge and skills from many subject areas and experiences to build something together. The exercise is preparing them for real life and the types of applied learning they will take on beyond the school environment.

Deeper learning focuses on a set of six competencies that students can develop throughout their K-12 education. When students graduate, they’ll be asked to fill jobs that may not even exist today, and tackle difficult problems like global poverty and climate change.

But too many schools in the United States are lagging behind on preparing students for this reality, and employers are worried about the lack of qualified workers. Students who have mastered the full set of deeper learning skills can set their own goals, adapt to new circumstances, accept feedback, work well in teams, and persevere.

The Hewlett Foundation has funded deeper learning since 2010. We support organizations that are demonstrating the enormous potential of deeper learning. We help states, districts, schools, teachers and students embrace this dynamic way of learning. We want to ensure that the U.S. public education system prepares every student for success by transforming the way it equips teachers, holds schools accountable, and evaluates student performance.

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