Transform adversity, uncertainty, or vulnerability into a growth opportunity
It all started with a mother-daughter community project to develop strong character in children by addressing bullying, exclusion, harassment, and other sticky situations in school and at home.  The SELF-Ex method was a six year project, culminated in developing a 5-step simple guide to transform any conflict into a growth opportunity responsibly to develop grit, confidence, and integrity.

LOS ANGELES – The USC Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education (Center EDGE),
Andrew Nikou Foundation, and IDEO announced 56 selections, as part of a first-of-its-kind
initiative to crowdsource solutions from educators, parents, and students to help schools
navigate the many challenges they face returning this fall. These solutions, which came from
across the world, will be featured on the Education Solutions Exchange — a public repository of
ongoing, high-quality, achievable, and scalable ideas that can be implemented for free in
schools as early as fall 2021.

  • Amidst the pandemic, entire education ecosystems have been upended locally, regionally, and
    globally. Fundamental defects and structural issues have been exposed and exacerbated by
    COVID-19, whether it be on teaching and learning, equity, or social-emotional fronts.
  • “From the digital divide to the massive learning losses due to the pandemic, the education
    system is being confronted with a host of challenges on a scale not seen in modern history,”
    said Alan Arkatov, founding director of Center EDGE.
  • “The Education Solutions Exchange is an exciting outgrowth of what we learned early in the pandemic — that creative, relevant, and
    relatively simple solutions can bring a quantifiable voice to those on the frontlines of education, and can have impact in timely, effective, and efficient ways.”
  • In response to the historic challenges facing students, Center EDGE and its partners formed
    The Education (Re)Open this spring, an online challenge to prioritize the voices of key
    stakeholders, and solicit ideas from students, teachers, parents, and leaders from the public,
    independent and parochial school sectors, along with experts from across the globe. The
    Education (Re)Open not only solicited new ideas, but the submission of ideas that were working
    in classrooms, schools, or homes that could be effectively scaled across broader education
  • Through these partnerships and IDEO’s human centered design platform for The Education
    (Re)Open, the need for what started as a unique crowdsourcing opportunity for time-sensitive
    solutions has created a demand for a new type of education clearinghouse — the Education
    Solutions Exchange — that can provide high quality and implementable recommendations in
    simple and accessible ways.
  • The Education (Re)Open received hundreds of submissions from 42 states in the U.S. and 34
    countries. After a vigorous two-month submission, vetting, coaching, refinement and judging
    process (more information can be found here), 56 solutions were identified to be part of the
    Education Solutions Exchange. Innovators whose solutions are featured on the site each
    received $1,000 for their participation and dedication to strengthening school communities.
    Winning entries, chosen in part for their simplicity and ability to immediately impact students’
    needs, include:
  • Mental Health Check In: A simple, low-cost, easily implementable system for students
    to communicate their emotional wellbeing and give teachers insight into how the class is
    feeling overall, and in particular to students who may need extra support.
  •  The 3 M’s: Media, Middle School, Mindfulness: A curriculum that teaches students to
    become more discerning with information seen on the internet, and to determine if it’s
    coming from a trustworthy source, which is especially critical in light of the disinformation
    surrounding the pandemic and vaccines.
  • Core Values in the Community: A program designed to reward students who
    demonstrate the values of Gratitude, Responsibility, Integrity, and Tenacity, and are given
    “GRITcoin” that can later be spent on things like raffles and pop-up shops at their
    schools. The program recognizes that students are anxious about returning to school,
    and yet they can be inspired to turn those feelings into something positive.
  • A Trusted Space: a free, cutting-edge, research-based film and curriculum for
    educators on how to help mitigate the effects of the grief, trauma, anxiety, and other
    emotional stressors that so many students are facing.


“The L.A. County Office of Education and the Greater L.A. Education Foundation are excited
about crowdsourcing innovative solutions from those that know education best — our educators,
parents, and students,” said Dr. Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools.
“We’re looking forward to working with our 80 superintendents and other district leaders
throughout the country to give a real voice to our stakeholders, by curating and implementing
selections from the Solutions Exchange that can improve teaching and learning outcomes.”

Lead funding and strategic support was provided by the Andrew Nikou Foundation with
additional support provided by:

  • Great Public Schools Now,
  • Joseph Drown Foundation,
  • The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation,
  • Annenberg Learner,
  • the Johnny Carson Foundation,
  • Shmoop,
  • Eva Stern,
  • the Khayami Foundation, and
  • the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

To see all selected solutions visit


  • About USC Rossier School of Education Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education
    (Center EDGE)
    Center EDGE fuels interdisciplinary collaboration to bring high quality, sustainable innovation to
    scale in the crucial area of educational engagement—the activities and techniques used to
    pique and grow student interests and motivation to learn both within and beyond the traditional
    school day.
  • About Andrew Nikou Foundation
    Driven by core values of connection, collaboration, and scale, the Andrew Nikou Foundation
    serves as a resource for big ideas that can improve the lives of people who are disconnected,
    oppressed, and left-behind. A network of partnerships with diverse experts inform ANF’s
    approach to social inclusion, education innovation and financial inclusion.
  • About IDEO
    IDEO is a global design firm creating positive impact through design. We are a community of
    designers, entrepreneurs, engineers, teachers, and researchers. Early leaders of
    human-centered design, we design for people first, always adapting to complex challenges. We
    build to learn, and learn as we build—through inspiration, ideation, and implementation.

We can help you narrate your story while offering tools and techniques on how to address it responsibly.

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We offer proprietary tools and resources to advocate, empower, and guide families through adverse situations.

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