Letter from the chairman:

We believe that we can help equip the rising generation with the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century. There is no question: our highly connected world offers powerful tools, real opportunities, and unprecedented challenges.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” -Stephen Hawking

To all Colleagues and Friends,

Fifteen years into the 21st century, we still speculate about how our world will change. Issues evolving at a rapid pace include technology, the economy, speed and channels of communication, personal privacy, public safety, and which skills will be in highest demand. There is no doubt that these, and many more fundamental issues, will be drastically different when we enter the 22nd century.

So, what is the best way to prepare and equip the rising generation to thrive in a connected, fast-changing and complex world?

This question is at the heart of SCE’s work. We manage three strategic grant-making programs, all intended to help prepare today’s kids to be able, productive, and fulfilled members of society.

Our Digital Learning program attempts to connect and capitalize on some of the powerful tools, and some of the chronic flaws that exist today. We begin with the unpleasant fact that our public education system is broken, in many ways. We are hardly alone in assuming our public education system has devolved into a class system.  Sadly, the quality of education is all too often dependent on family income; those with the least resources receive the poorest quality education and vice versa. Today’s technology—paired with the right human supports—offers  an opportunity to channel high-quality learning material to kids, anytime, anywhere.

The question then becomes “What is the good?” in technology and how can we use it to participate in the effort to democratize education?  Our highly selective list of grantees illustrates how we are working towards this end.

Our second program area speaks to the “non-cognitive” skills that are most highly correlated to life success and satisfaction.  The attributes we focus on include: grit and resilience, problem-solving, emotion management, agency, and capacity for empathy. These SEL (social and emotional learning) skills form the framework for meaningful relationships. Without them, even the brightest individual can be limited.

A significant body of research confirms that SEL skills are learned. These attributes are usually taught by supportive adults, in safe contexts. Unfortunately, many children lack close, supportive relationships with adults, and there is a paucity of safe places to go on weekends and between dismissal and dinnertime.

Our SEL Challenge focuses on afterschool programs—in arts, sports, every conceivable interest area—where low-income kids and professional youth workers come into frequent contact.  We have selected eight geographically and programmatically diverse organizations, whose common characteristics include great track records, high-quality programs and staff, and an intentional effort to impart SEL skills.

In addition to providing direct support to some of our nation’s best youth-facing programs, we are studying, recording and codifying those practices that cultivate SEL skills in youth. This two-year effort will culminate in the creation of a Field Guide of best practices and user-friendly impact measures, which will be made available free of charge to any youth service interested in strengthening the SEL component of their work.

And finally, we operate a catch-all program called Catalyst Grants, which recognizes innovative and promising approaches to chronic problems. The list of grantees best describes the work.

This kind of work is a privilege and a joy. SCE could not operate without its knowledgeable, dedicated board, and its keenly intelligent and capable team. None of this work would be possible without the generosity of Henry Crown, who believed, as I do, that actions always speak louder than words.

Susan Crown

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Our Mission:

SCE is invested in shaping an ecosystem of anytime, anywhere, 21st century learning to prepare youth to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing and highly connected world. Through three primary programs—digital learning, social and emotional learning, and our catalyst grants—SCE connects talent and innovation with forces for positive change.

We seek to broaden the definition of success to include mastery of skills like problem solving, complex systems thinking, and digital literacy, which extend beyond the acquisition of knowledge –to learning how to learn.

Watch a video about our work here.

Our History:

In 2009, after three decades in traditional philanthropy, Susan Crown decided to pursue a more finely tuned, strategic approach to social investment. She wanted to focus on a handful of programs, and to take bigger risks on innovative ways to drive positive change for the rising generation. So she built an entity that is different, and nimbler, than traditional foundations. Susan assembled a talented and unconventional staff, and a board of experienced leaders from the public, private, and social sectors. The result is SCE — the Susan Crown Exchange, a social investment organization with a fresh approach to catalyzing change through philanthropy.

Our Team: