There are nearly 50 million children in public school in the United States and a large percentage of them are not getting the education they need and deserve. This is particularly true among our poorest children. This is not news to anyone. But efforts to reform the existing system have repeatedly resulted in incremental change at best. Educators are understandably frustrated by the fact that the system is built to resist significant change at any level. Our hope in making this film is that by showing a concerted effort to innovate from the ground level up, that parents, teachers, principals and reformers will be inspired to take a risk to reinvent their own schools.

In 2011, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with several other major education funders to sponsor the Next Generation Leadership Challenge, a national contest that would challenge educators to develop completely new or redesigned schools to meet the challenges of entering the modern workforce.

Three years later, the District of Columbia was chosen as the first regional pilot of this highly successful competition. In early 2014, 22 teams applied for the first round of the contest, which involved devising radical new ideas to “reinvent” school, with the potential of unlocking hundreds of thousands of dollars for launch and completion. Six of those “won” the first round.

“Breakthrough” is the story of three of those first six winners – one current DC public school, and two brand new charter schools. They have two years to enact the change they have designed. Some will make it sooner than others but all three are on track to reinvent school as we know it.

Anticipated release date Spring 2017.

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