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Blog Oct 26, 2022

Celebrating 20 Years with New Mission and Vision Statements

Since 2002, Turnaround for Children has been on a nonstop quest to deeply understand both how kids grow and learn and how to bring about the practices, conditions, and policies that set each and every student up to thrive. In that time, collaborating closely with our partners across the education ecosystem, we have learned a great deal.

To honor our 20th anniversary this year, Turnaround’s staff, board members, partners, and friends engaged in collaborative, thought-provoking conversations that culminated in a reimagining of our mission and vision statements. We updated these statements to more accurately represent our core commitment to creating equitable learning environments—everywhere kids learn—by applying principles from the science of learning and development.


Turnaround for Children advances key insights from educator practice, scientific research and student experience so that together we can create equitable learning environments—settings that affirm the strengths, meet the needs and fully develop the abilities of each and every young person.


Each and every young person learns and develops in settings intentionally designed for them to thrive.

Our Journey

When Turnaround was founded 20 years ago by child psychiatrist Pamela Cantor, M.D., (to this day our Senior Science Advisor and board member), we worked hard to get underneath the impact of trauma on student learning. We followed the science, and it led us to a deep realization about how much context matters for academic success and healthy development.

As Dr. Cantor says, “The context we’re exposed to is the primary driver of who we become.” The environments, experiences, and relationships in a young person’s life—at home, at school, everywhere—have a huge impact on them. Sometimes that impact is negative, and kids carry the stress with them when they show up in the classroom. But what we now know is we can intentionally design supportive, positive contexts in our learning settings that are filled with protective factors. We can help buffer the stress and get the obstacles out of the way so that each student can learn and flourish on their own individual pathway.

Today, the way educators understand the impact of adversity on learning has changed and we are beginning to see an embrace of a broader definition of educational success. To truly transform the education system, we need an integrated approach to student development and learning, one that is grounded in the science of how young people actually learn and grow. One that honors the relationships, environments and experiences that support that learning and growth.  

Over the past year, we have worked to bring greater clarity and coherence to our organizational identity, vision and mission, and strategy. We seek to accelerate our evolution as an organization and make a significant and lasting contribution to the field toward an integrated, context-sensitive approach to education—one that amplifies the lived experiences of both educators and children. Today, we are clearer than ever about who we are, why we do what we do, and the enormous change that we could bring about if we are successful. 

5 Big Ideas Behind Our New Mission and Vision Statements:

  • Schools are places that should be intentionally designed so each and every child can thrive. The majority of learning settings were never intentionally designed based on the science of learning. What if they were?
  • Equity is both the why and how of this work. With one foot in scientific research and one in educational practice, Turnaround aims to fundamentally change the way our education system functions: from what is prioritized and funded, to how student achievement and progress are measured, to how educators are prepared and equipped, and what federal policies explicitly or implicitly dictate.
  • Whole-child design is key to ensuring that each and every young person thrives. The science of learning and development has shown just how crucial integrating social, emotional, academic, and cognitive development into education is for students to thrive and actualize their full potential.
  • Creating better conditions for learning and development must build from the experiences of young people. Amplifying student voice is absolutely critical. We now affirm and center the strengths of young people in our mission and vision statements with the same optimism and belief in them that we have been grounded in since our founding 20 years ago. 
  • There is no such thing as an average studenteach is on their own individual developmental trajectory. No one-size-fits-all approach will work—we must work to personalize for the context of every learner.

Our Strategy

Turnaround is implementing whole-child design right now through R&D, building educator capacity, and mobilizing the educational ecosystem.

  • We design tools and resources
  • We partner with educators, support staff, school leaders, and districts for professional development, participatory action research, and implementation of whole-child design
  • We are helping to build a national movement toward equitable thriving, grounded in the science of learning and development


Together we can make education whole


We know that we cannot succeed alone. Today, Turnaround is part of a movement driven by research and practice. Holistic thinking about child development requires collaborative thinking about systems change. The impact we want to see will only come about through transformative collaboration across the youth development system. By rooting educational practices in the principles of whole-child design, we can work toward equitable thriving for everyone, in all of our educational environments. 

Together we can make education whole.

Stay tuned as we celebrate our 20th anniversary and share more about our mission, vision, and strategy throughout the coming months.