May 1, 2018
Voqal believes the opportunity gap is the most pervasive and damaging problem in the U.S. educational system. We define the opportunity gap as the educational disparity and inequity that exists across racial and class lines. It is one of the root causes of rising economic inequality. Rather than the outcomes-focused achievement gap — which is primarily associated with flawed test-based accountability — the opportunity gap is focused on the foundational deficiencies found in schools, communities and society that lead to significant differences in educational outcomes.
Reducing the complex and multi-faceted educational opportunity gap is a daunting problem that cannot be achieved through any one solution. Opportunity gaps occur at many points along the education continuum and many gaps result from societal or familial factors completely outside of the educational system. While there is no silver bullet, emerging research does show that some innovative and strategically-targeted educational solutions are more impactful than others. Even more encouraging is the potential of rapid advances in technology and its subsequent adoption in education to enhance the scale, and reduce the long-term costs, of these targeted interventions.
Innovative solutions that address specific problems should be coupled with change initiatives. These change initiatives should be informed through rigorous research and experimentation that demonstrates the efficacy and validity of the approach. They are typically major policy and/or practice changes that hold the potential to make systemic reductions in opportunity gaps aimed at forming a more equitable educational experience for all individuals, especially those most disadvantaged.
The Education Opportunity Project seeks to measurably reduce educational opportunity gaps through two distinct — but complementary — opportunity gap reduction strategies:
- Invest in Innovation: Invest seed and early-stage capital in mission-driven companies and organizations that are explicitly focused on addressing educational opportunity gaps in the U.S. through innovative solutions.
- Promote Systemic Policy Change: Support political campaigns, specific actions and unique organizations to advance opportunity-related systemic policy change.
Voqal will continue to test this thesis and incubate the Education Opportunity Project by strategically deploying capital through an impact lens and taking bets on companies, organizations, individuals and efforts that harness technology and innovation to build better educational opportunity. Demonstrated success in this effort will catalyze further impact investing in education that values educational outcomes alongside — or even before — profits.
It is our hope that the Education Opportunity Project will expand beyond Voqal, attracting fresh capital from a variety of like-minded organizations and individuals as an independent venture fund. The need for this work is significant, and Voqal plans to continue leading the call for change.