America’s education system is centuries old. Can we build something better?

The Lumina Foundation lays out steps for increasing access to quality post-secondary education credentials.

  • America's post-high school education landscape was not created with the modern student in mind. Today, clear and flexible pathways are necessary to help individuals access education that can help them lead a better life.
  • Elizabeth Garlow explains the Lumina Foundation's strategy to create a post-secondary education system that works for all students. This includes credential recognition, affordability, a more competency-based system, and quality assurance.
  • Systemic historic factors have contributed to inequality in the education system. Lumina aims to close those gaps in educational attainment.
  • In 2019, Lumina Foundation and Big Think teamed up to create the Lumina Prize, a search to find the most innovative and scalable ideas in post-secondary education. You can see the winners of the Lumina Prize here – congratulations to PeerForward and Greater Commons!

How academic freedom strengthens the bonds of accumulated knowledge

As humans, we teach each other. But do we take for granted our freedom to do so?

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Humans are unique in that we learn socially and actively teach each other lessons of survival.
  • Freedom of expression allows accumulated knowledge, that which is passed down through generations and across cultures, to flourish within and benefit society.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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American higher education is in crisis. Here’s a plan to revolutionize it.

Todd McLeod, the founder of Greater Commons, has a 12-step plan to transform higher education in the U.S., improve our lives, and improve society.

  • Half of all students who begin their higher education journey drop out, 68 percent of Americans never attain a higher education degree, and 73 percent of Americans go into fields unrelated to their higher education degree.
  • Clearly, something is wrong with how we approach higher education. In turn, this approach contributes to societal ills, like unrealized contributions to humanity, unrealized potential, debt, despair, and pessimism.
  • Professor and founder of Greater Commons Todd McLeod has a 12-step plan designed to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. to ensure that the higher education system can keep pace with our rapidly changing world.
  • In 2019, Lumina Foundation and Big Think teamed up to create the Lumina Prize, a search to find the most innovative and scalable ideas in post-secondary education. Congratulations to Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod, the audience choice winner of the Lumina Prize!


Getting 16.4 million people better post-secondary education? Lumina Foundation has a plan for that.

Lumina Foundation wants to help 16.4 million people get a quality credential by 2025, and they're looking for entrepreneurs with the vision to help realize that goal.

  • Lumina Foundation's goal is to help people across the U.S. get a quality post-secondary education.
  • To do that, it's providing grants, helping to shape policy, and it's investing in innovative entrepreneurs through the Lumina Impact Ventures program.
  • Lumina is looking to partner with entrepreneurs who are dedicated to helping students gain a fulfilling post-secondary education and for whom Lumina Foundation can be a strong value-add partner.
  • In 2019, Lumina Foundation and Big Think teamed up to create the Lumina Prize, a search to find the most innovative and scalable ideas in post-secondary education. You can see the winners of the Lumina Prize here – congratulations to PeerForward and Greater Commons!
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College education is still a class luxury in America. PeerForward is changing that.

Like it or not, most jobs still require some kind of secondary degree. PeerForward is working with low-income communities to ensure that students aren't excluded based on their zip code.

Sponsored by Lumina Foundation
  • More than two-thirds of American jobs require some kind of secondary education. Unfortunately, kids growing up in a low-income area simply do not have the same resources as wealthier areas when it comes to applying for college or making it to graduation.
  • PeerForward works with students in low-income areas to get them into college by helping them identify their target college, find and apply for financial aid, and consider how their choice of major connects to their future career.
  • PeerForward now is expanding onto college campuses to help students persist to earning a degree. The organization hopes to reach 10,000 college students by 2024.
  • PeerForward is a winner of the Lumina Prize. Discover what they're about here.
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You can crowdsource innovation. Here’s how Lumina does it.

What are the best ideas out there to innovate our rapidly changing education system? The Lumina Foundation has partnered with Big Think to find them.

Sponsored by Lumina Foundation
  • The conventional model of innovation involves piloting a product, scaling it, and then mainstreaming it.
  • However, the Lumina Foundation believes that this model won't work quite so well for education: Instead, rapidly prototyping and iterating different ideas is the likely the best way to create a more equitable education system for our rapidly changing society.
  • That's why the Lumina Foundation is partnering with entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to improve our education system through Lumina Impact Ventures, and why Big Think is helping them find the best ideas about the future of learning and work.
  • You can see the winners of the Lumina Prize here - congratulations to PeerForward and Greater Commons!
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Lumina Prize awarded for innovation in post-high school education

Congratulations to our Audience's Choice and Judges' Choice Award Winners!

Sponsored by Lumina Foundation


Winners announced for Lumina Prize

In January, Big Think and Lumina Foundation called for innovative ideas in post-high school training and education with an emphasis on an entrepreneurial approach. Today, we are pleased to announce that we have selected two winners.

The Judges' Choice Award

The Judge's Choice Award goes to PeerForward, an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. You can watch their winning video entry here.

For the next and final leg of the competition, winners will be flown (or train-ed) to Big Think's studio in New York City where they will receive coaching from top social venture and media experts on how to deliver a spectacular and direct business pitch.

The Audience Choice Award

The Audience Choice Award goes to Greater Commons. Founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, Greater Commons is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. You can watch their winning video entry here.

Congratulations PeerForward and Greater Commons!

And thank you to our four finalists, our community of voters, and the wonderful judges who helped us make this competition possible. All applicants had fantastic ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.

For the next and final leg of the competition, winners will be flown (or train-ed) to Big Think's studio in New York City where they will receive coaching from top social venture and media experts on how to deliver a spectacular and direct business pitch.

Big Think producers will film and edit the footage from the pitch training and create a digital copy to be released on our website and additionally used by the winners as a tool to meet potential investors and stakeholders. We look forward to working with Greater Commons and PeerForward and are excited to release their pitches on Big Think in the coming months!