The Summit Learning Program Today and Tomorrow, A Message from Summit Public Schools CEO Diane Tavenner

When we opened our first Summit school in 2003, it was with a vision that every child in America enters adulthood equipped to lead a fulfilled life — a life of well-being that is filled with purpose, financial independence, community, strong relationships, and health.

We have always believed that our work as educators doesn’t end at our own school door; that it is our responsibility and privilege to help shape the future of education for children across our country. What started as one high school in Redwood City, California has grown to 11 schools in California and Washington serving more than 4,400 students. And what was developed as a small pilot has grown into the Summit Learning Program, a robust program offering a defined experience and extensive support to many schools, for free.  

Today, having just entered our fourth year working with schools nationwide, the Summit Learning Program now partners with more than 380 schools, nearly 3,800 educators, and more than 72,000 students. These schools are in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and are district, charter, and private.

We have done what so few school networks have ever accomplished — we have codified our educational approach and the resources and tools needed to implement and tailor it, and shared that approach with educators and communities in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

As we look to the future, we are excited to continue expanding our impact within the broader public school system by sharing the Summit Learning Program with more schools and refining the Program to best meet the needs of all students. To do this, and with our support, a new nonprofit organization will independently lead and operate the Summit Learning Program beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

Having a new nonprofit lead the work of the Summit Learning Program will allow Summit Public Schools to continue to focus on two critical things consistent with our original vision. The first is to build out and further strengthen our Summit schools. This includes our continued expansion into middle school, our first graduating classes this school year in our Washington schools, and our effort to professionally develop teachers and talent through our recently launched teacher residency program. The second is to continue innovating — the type of innovation that gave way to the creation of Summit Learning.

The new nonprofit will provide the same level of support to all schools — free access to a comprehensive and customizable base curriculum, professional development and training, ongoing coaching in the form of a dedicated Summit Learning mentor, and access to the Summit Learning Platform that organizes resources for teachers and students. And, it will ensure the Program is able to meet the rising demand for participation by schools across the country.

In addition, the outstanding team of more than 90 educators on the Summit Learning team — which includes former teachers and school leaders, as well as experienced curriculum writers and professional development coaches — will lead the work and support the creation of the new nonprofit. And the team will grow and thrive with the consistent leadership of Andy Goldin, our Chief Program Officer.

As a key designer of the Program, as well as a mother of a student in it, I will serve as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the new nonprofit, overseeing the work of the Program. Also on the founding Board are:

  • Priscilla Chan, head of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which oversees the engineering team supporting the Summit Learning Platform and is the primary funder of the Program. As a pediatrician and educator, Priscilla has worked with patients, students, and other community members, and these experiences have shaped how she approaches this work;
  • Peggy Alford, the Chief Financial Officer and Head of Operations for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, brings a strong background in supporting organizations as they grow to ensure fiscal health and sustainability; and   
  • Alex Hernandez, who is a seasoned educator in K-12 education whose unique perspective on higher education will keep the Program aligned with one of our key outcomes for our kids — college.

This is a group of leaders passionate about equity in public education, each bringing critical expertise to the Program’s ongoing success.

We still have much work to do in realizing our collective vision for every student, but I am filled with hope for what these two distinct organizations can do towards fulfilling the original vision that we all share. This is an amazing community of educators, and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

Thank you for being on this journey with us.


Diane Tavenner

Have questions? Learn more about the new organization here.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.