America Forward Launches Whole-Learner Education Initiative with Release of “Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success”

America Forward, the nonpartisan policy initiative of pioneering venture philanthropy organization New Profit, launched Advancing Whole-Learner Education — a new initiative aimed at deepening public engagement and expanding federal support for whole-learner approaches to education. As the first step in the new initiative, America Forward released Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success, a detailed framework for evidence-based, whole-learner approaches to education that includes specific  policy recommendations for federal policymakers. 


Developed in partnership with several members of the America Forward Coalition, along with experts, practitioners, and leaders across the country, and with deep support from the LEGO Foundation, Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success lays out a vision for how federal policy can create a foundation for the expansion of innovative educational approaches that advance equity and improve outcomes for all students. Whole-learner approaches prioritize a range of learning experiences that support the development of the critical, interconnected skills that all learners need to thrive – both in school, and in life. 


As school officials and educators across the country prepare for school to resume, and continue to address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on students, teachers, and schools, it is more important than ever that education systems adopt a holistic view of learning that supports students’ social, emotional, cognitive, creative, and physical development. Students, families, educators, and communities face unprecedented challenges, and Federal policymakers will play a critical role in shaping education policy as communities experience, and ultimately recover from, the pandemic. Through the Advancing Whole-Learner Education Initiative, America Forward aims to work closely with policymakers, educators, advocates, families, and our Coalition partners to ensure that educational approaches focus on the needs of the whole child. 


“Today, students and teachers are experiencing unprecedented public health and economic challenges, and longstanding, pernicious inequities are being laid bare.  Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it is deeply impacted by context. To help students meet the unprecedented challenges they face today, we need education systems 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,” said Deborah Smolover, Executive Director of America Forward. “High-quality whole-learner approaches embrace a range of learning experiences that help students develop the breadth of skills they need to thrive. This new policy Roadmap outlines how federal policy can advance whole-learner approaches to education so that all students succeed. Through this new initiative, America Forward – in close partnership with the members of our Coalition and our network partners –  will build on our track record of successful federal advocacy to advance policies that set the stage for the widespread adoption of whole learner approaches.”


Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success is available online at

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