November 9, 2021 [REDWOOD CITY, CA] – Today, Imaginable Futures announced a strategy refresh that expands its collaboration with partners working to remove systemic barriers so that all learners have the opportunity to thrive.
While maintaining its hybrid funding structure that is part philanthropic foundation and part impact investor, Imaginable Futures is broadening its focus from social entrepreneurship and innovation as primary levers to a systems approach informed by both global and local insights which seeks to address inequities and foster holistic learning for learners, families and communities. As part of this evolved strategy, Imaginable Futures will now be more focused in three specific geographies: Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa (primarily in Kenya and South Africa) and the U.S. It will also maintain a limited portfolio of partners that support global learning outside these geographies.
Launched in early 2020 as an independent organization under The Omidyar Group, Imaginable Futures has invested more than $240 million and collaborated with more than 175 partners around the world as part of Omidyar Network and now as an independent entity. The strategy update evolved after more than a year of listening to and learning from local partners, communities, learners, teachers, policymakers and more, in its key regions and going deeper to understand how current systems too often reproduce inequities and create barriers to learning and thriving.
“We know the status quo of education and learning isn’t working for too many learners. And, in the pandemic, this has become nothing short of a crisis. While our previous work remains critical to us, we’ve realized that we need to be even more intentional about addressing the complex patterns of inequity,” said Amy Klement, Managing Partner of Imaginable Futures. “Understanding our privileged position as funders, we are committed to working with and supporting partners to co-create solutions alongside learners and communities—solutions that foster well-being and strive to dismantle systemic barriers to learning. We’re working together to create a world where every person has the opportunity to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.”
Imaginable Futures’ work across the organization’s three geographic focus areas will evolve in the following ways:
In Africa, Imaginable Futures is broadening its work from increasing access to quality education through solutions like affordable private schools to supporting holistic education models that provide youth with access to, and support in pursuing, diverse learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom. By 2035, Africa will have more youth than the rest of the world combined. In order to support a generation of youth facing high unemployment and uncertainty, Imaginable Futures works with partner organizations to nurture initiatives that offer young people flexible learning pathways, democratise access to networks that enable youth to build their social capital and increase access and affordability to quality child care for mothers. Much of this work will have a focus within Kenya and South Africa.
“Enabling multiple pathways for holistic development and breaking down barriers that perpetuate inequitable access to learning for youth, especially girls and young women, is critical to Africa’s future, as is access to strong community support and role models,” said Shikha Goyal, Venture Partner at Imaginable Futures. “At Imaginable Futures, we are committed to collaborating with young people, teachers, parents, local leaders and policymakers to support learning models that provide young people with the skills, agency and support they need to thrive.”
In Brazil, Imaginable Futures works with partners to bridge social divides, elevate the voices of those marginalized to shift underlying systemic patterns that perpetuate intergenerational inequities. Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world, and the impact of COVID-19 has only exacerbated disparities. By expanding its original investments in edtech solutions to investments that focus on equity-centered, holistic models of learning, Imaginable Futures seeks to increase learning outcomes and opportunities for all.
“Structural racism in Brazil’s education system currently limits access to equitable learning opportunities for the vast majority of youth. Therefore, we are putting racial equity and social justice in the center of our work,” said Fabio Tran, Venture Partner at Imaginable Futures. “We are collaborating with our close partners and communities, promoting the holistic development of learners, and expanding the representation and development of diverse leaders. All this, while remaining committed to supporting equitable edtech.”
In the United States, Imaginable Futures’ strategy is driven by the knowledge that impactful innovation must be married with a strong and intentional anchoring in racial, gender and economic equity and connected to equitable research, policy and public infrastructure. The organization will continue to take a two-generation approach in the U.S., investing in early childhood to ensure that learning and care are accessible to all families, and supporting student parents—an often invisible and forgotten population of nearly 20 million postsecondary learners with children of their own—to create additional pathways for economic prosperity and advance racial and economic equity in postsecondary education.
“The U.S. education system was designed to, and continues to, reproduce generational inequity,” said Vinice Davis, Venture Partner at Imaginable Futures. “Breaking the cycle starts with supporting families more holistically through a lens of racial equity. While equity has always been a focus, we are now being even more intentional around how we can directly address the racism embedded in our systems.”
About Imaginable Futures
Imaginable Futures is a global philanthropic investment firm driven by impact and the belief that learning is key to well-being and equitable, healthy systems. Imaginable Futures is committed to shifting inequitable systems and moving barriers standing in the way of learners, families and communities from thriving and reaching their fullest potential. To do so, Imaginable Futures collaborates with changemakers and those most impacted to solve complex education challenges and co-design solutions that work for communities. With partners across public, private and social sectors in Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, Imaginable Futures is co-creating transformational solutions in local, national and global contexts for learners of all ages. Imaginable Futures is a venture of The Omidyar Group. Learn more at www.imaginablefutures.com.