Axiom Learning was founded in 2009 (right in the middle of the financial crisis) by two Harvard alumni, Shahzad Bhatti and Dr. J. Aisha Simon, because we wanted to leave the world better than we found it. As we looked into the different ways to improve the world (and we looked at a LOT of things - improving energy access, climate change, building roads, ensuring clean water, addressing human trafficking, helping refugees and so much more), we kept seeing the same dynamics. When we met people in the private sector they always said the same thing: We can't fill the job openings we have because we can't find enough people who have the right skills. When we spoke to the "man on the street" they would often say the opposite - they had been looking unsuccessfully for a job for years. It didn't matter whether we were in the United States, Malaysia, Europe, Ghana, Turkey or Canada, the dynamic was the same: The skills we are giving our kids today are not what they will need to be successful tomorrow. Education is the one "horizontal" that cuts across every other industry or sector ("vertical") all around the world. If we are going to be able to solve the world's biggest problems of tomorrow, we realized that we need to re-think how we approach education today.
Indeed, as parents of three kids of our own, we were experiencing the frustration with the limited set of opportunities available to our own kids - whether they were advanced or struggling. It didn't take long for us to realize that we were not alone: There are a LOT of kids who are under-served (or under-optimized) today and much of that struggle is a function of an education system built for the needs of yesterday rather than tomorrow. Moreover, a lot of kids struggle when they don't have to because a one-size-fits-all education system tends to measure one very specific type of output and if that doesn't work for a particular student, well - tough luck. Whether students have a learning challenge and are struggling with classes, or they are advanced and seeking greater challenge to realize their full gifts, or are talented individuals who aren't being noticed, at Axiom we believe that they deserve better and have built the tools to help. Our education system should AT LEAST be giving each and every child the SKILLS they need to have the OPPORTUNITY to be successful in the future rather than continuing to use the same tools we have used for decades to prepare them for a world that no longer exists. Oh, and by the way, why can't they enjoy the process as they do it?
As we embarked on the journey that became Axiom Learning, we wanted to be careful not to repeat the mistakes made by others. If you look at the history of education reform, you will see that it is littered with well-intentioned people who all attempted reform with the same view: That THEY knew what was right and everybody should listen to them. Well, sometimes they were right but often they were wrong. That's why at Axiom we don't presume to know what works - we let the data decide what works. Everything we do here is research-driven and evidence-based. We test everything (big and small) and, if it works, we test it some more before we roll it out to the public. For every lesson plan or business line that we now have, there have been dozens that we closed out because they simply weren't effective. That's why our programs, schools and interventions have proven so effective compared to everything else - we know what works because the data tells us (not our egos!). That's also why we have a Board of Advisors which consists of some of the smartest and most successful people in education - we know we can't do this alone and need the best advice from people that have had great success in education despite often dealing with much adversity along the way.
So how did we decide which problems to try and address? We have used three criteria to determine the biggest opportunities:
1. Identify the BIGGEST GAPS in the system: We don't see our role as educating every student but, rather, to FIGURE OUT how best to educate students. It takes just as much effort to solve a small problem as it does to solve a big one so, in identifying what to develop and/or test, we focused on ideas that filled the biggest gaps in the system.
2. We prioritized by IMPACT: We prioritized ideas that would have the biggest impact on individual lives as well. Moving forward, as our physical footprint continues to grow, we want to be able to rapidly pilot curricula and more quickly and efficiently identify “winners” and terminate “losers”.
3. We prioritized by IMPLEMENTABILITY: Married to the question of impact is the question of how easily something can be implemented in a large public education system. As we built our amazing educational interventions, we always kept one eye on the ease of implementation for others- particularly public school systems.
Today, Axiom Learning has grown into the ultimate Social Purpose Corporation: Every morning, our talented team goes to work seeking to advance our mission to serve as a catalyst for the positive transformation of education globally. While we will deliver robust commercial returns to our shareholders, we will do so by providing the very best educational offerings we are capable of - no cutting of corners, no sacrificing quality for revenue and ALWAYS putting our students' needs and their futures at the center of every conversation. In other words, here at Axiom we place an emphasis on being good people who are doing the right things in the right way for the right reasons.
Axiom has developed some of the most powerful tools available anywhere in the world which have the potential to help millions of students worldwide. With the world's best 1-on-1 Learning Laboratories, technology-driven, project-based Micro-Schools, cutting-edge technology tools and LEAP, our transformative set of interventions for kids with learning challenges, Axiom is dedicated to spending the next several years of our journey scaling what we have to reach as many as kids around the world as we can.
In the meantime, we aren't willing to wait for our programs to reach the scale and integration where they can have have a meaningful impact on those who need it most. That's why we donate $100 from each of our packages to supporting kids from families who otherwise wouldn't be able to get the support they need, offer free classes at Boys & Girls clubs and offer free support to some of the world's poorest children, including refugees, street children and orphans.
We are always looking for like-minded partners to join us on our journey towards helping today's kids become tomorrow's success stories. So whether you are a talented person who wants to join our (rapidly growing) team, a family who would entrust your children to us at one of our learning laboratories or micro-schools or a school looking to license our technology or cutting-edge LEAP program for kids with learning challenges, we would love to hear from you. Over the next several years, we hope to have made meaningful progress in our ambition to empower ALL of our kids to lead fully actualized lives where they don't just survive but thrive and, hopefully, leave their own mark that moves our planet in the right direction. We hope to have you join us on this journey.