America Forward Awarded Major Grant from the LEGO Foundation to Support its “Advancing Whole-Learner Education” Initiative

Washington, D.C., October 15 – America Forward, New Profit’s nonpartisan policy initiative that unites social entrepreneurs with policymakers to advance innovative and effective solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems, today announced that it has been awarded a $3.9 million grant from the LEGO Foundation to support its “Advancing Whole Learner Education” initiative. Together with previous LEGO Foundation support for whole-learner work at America Forward, this grant represents a bold investment of $4.8 million toward advancing policies that support whole-learner education and foster the development of holistic skills.


Over the next three years, the new grant will support America Forward’s efforts to deepen public engagement and expand federal support for whole-learner approaches to education that support the development of the critical, interconnected skills that all learners need to thrive – both in school and in life. The “Advancing Whole-Learner Education” initiative will support advocacy efforts of America Forward Coalition organizations and partners focused on whole-learner practice, deep engagement with public policy decision-makers, and a public engagement campaign to increase public awareness and understanding of whole-learner approaches to education.   


The current grant award follows a previous $860,000 investment in America Forward from the LEGO Foundation to support the development and release of America Forward’s report, Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success and the accompanying website, which provide a detailed framework for evidence-based, whole-learner approaches to education that includes specific policy recommendations for federal policymakers. Since the release of the report in July, America Forward has been engaging its Coalition members and partners, advocating for whole-learner approaches, and working with elected leaders, educators, and experts in key battleground states on holistic approaches to education. 


“To help students meet today’s unprecedented challenges, we need whole-learner approaches that are grounded in equity, that recognize the interconnected way social, emotional, cognitive, creative, and physical skills develop, and that provide safe and supportive environments and relationships. The urgency of this work is especially clear now, during a global pandemic that has deepened persistent inequities,” said Deborah Smolover, Executive Director of America Forward. “We are so grateful to the LEGO Foundation for their generous funding and dedicated partnership in support of the Advancing Whole Learner Education initiative, which aims to spur the widespread adoption of evidence-based whole-learner approaches that lead to improved outcomes for all students.”


This grant to America Forward reflects the LEGO Foundation’s ongoing deep commitment to principles inherent in their “Learning through Play” philosophy. “During these times of radical disruption to traditional education, work and family life, we have an extraordinary opportunity to rethink how we can best equip children with the skills they need to become better problem solvers and navigate times of uncertainty. This is a critical moment to reform our education systems to center on equipping students with not only knowledge but also skills and competencies to discover and engage with the world around them,” said Diana Ringe Krogh, Head of New Ventures at the LEGO Foundation. “We are pleased to work in partnership with America Forward and to support the ‘Advancing Whole Learner Education’ initiative, which we believe recognizes the vital importance of intentional, diverse learning through play experiences that mirror the way children learn naturally and that foster the development of the breadth of skills that every learner needs to thrive.”


About America Forward

America Forward is the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy initiative of New Profit, a pioneering national venture philanthropy organization that invests in a portfolio of breakthrough social entrepreneurs and systems-change initiatives, catalyzes and builds their impact, and transforms how government and philanthropy pursue social change to ensure that all people can thrive.

America Forward unites social innovators with policymakers to advance a public policy agenda that advances equity, fosters innovation, rewards results, catalyzes cross-sector partnerships, and transforms local impact into national change. The America Forward Coalition comprises a network of over 100 social innovation organizations that champion innovative, effective, and efficient solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems. Since 2007, our Coalition organizations have successfully advocated for lasting policy change in education, workforce development, and Pay for Success policy; leveraged $1.7 billion for social innovation; and driven millions of federal resources toward programs that are achieving measurable results for those who need them most. To learn more visit


About the LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for learning through play. Learn more on

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