Model & Strategy
More than 250 million children and youth do not have access to school. Hundreds of millions more go to school but never learn to read or write due to overcrowded schools, teacher shortages, absenteeism, lack of and/or poor quality instructional resources, and inadequate services for special needs. Imagine Worldwide is laser-focused on ensuring that the most marginalized children can develop critical foundational literacy and numeracy skills. They work with top partners to provide learning solutions that empower children with engaging, adaptive content that is pre-loaded onto tablets and delivered in a variety of contexts both in and out of school. Imagine’s model does not require connectivity, a power grid, or a trained teacher: learning is delivered autonomously and adults are coaches and mentors.
Imagine has two overlapping efforts: research and scale. Their world-class research team is building an evidence base to inform their learning model, including what works, why, and how. Imagine uses varied research methods to continuously improve both their products and their delivery models. Imagine’s scale efforts are focused on partnering with local organizations and providing them with the tools and expertise they need to successfully implement at scale. As they scale, Imagine creates a learning network that accelerates the pace of innovation, improving learning outcomes for children and decreasing global inequities.
Joe has focused the last decade on launching and leading educational nonprofits. Prior to Imagine, Joe co-founded The Learning Accelerator, a nonprofit connecting teachers and leaders with the knowledge and tools needed to transform K-12. Previously, he had a 15-year career as an investor with Goldman Sachs and RS Investments. His board work has included the Christensen Institute, NPX Advisors, Summer Search, New Classrooms, and the New Schools Venture Fund. Joe graduated from Vanderbilt University and HBS.
Between 84% and 88% of learners persisted in each of their studies to date. These randomized controlled trials (RCTs) consistently show substantively important positive impacts in both literacy and numeracy as well as improvements in attendance, behavior and attitudes towards learning.
Their first 8-month RCT in Malawi government schools produced effect sizes of 0.34 in overall literacy and 0.29 in critical early math skills. These impacts are equivalent to 5.3 and 3.1 months of additional learning over standard instruction and represent an added value of 66% and 39%, respectively.
After launching a 2-year RCT in these same schools with a new cohort of children, the schools closed after 5 months due to COVID. When children returned after 7 months out of school, research showed that children in the tablet program retained significantly more learning than the control group, with effect sizes of 0.24 in overall literacy and 0.35 in overall math.