The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Education
5. Democrats for Education Reform
For sparking a new willingness to battle for education reform. A California lawsuit made headlines last summer when a Los Angeles judge ruled that the state's laws concerning teacher hiring, firing, and tenure were unconstitutional, due to their disproportionate impact on low-income and minority students. The suit, backed by deep-pocketed donors, revealed an important shift: Education's most contentious debates increasingly play out in local elections and legal filings, and early mover Democrats for Education Reform is in many ways responsible for awakening a new generation of Democrat-leaning leaders (and donors) to the realities of political hardball. Whether or not you agree with DFER's policy positions, their impact is undeniable: "There were a lot of people who believed that if you supported good ideas, good schools, people would make room for you," says Joe Williams, the executive director. "I think that that notion has been nipped in the bud."
3. Bridge International Academies
For bringing high-quality, affordable schools to the developing world. A fragmented market of for-profit schools has been exploding in Africa and Asia for over a decade. Now Bridge International Academies is introducing scale and quality control, with a tightly managed model that provides a year's worth of schooling for the cost of dinner in Manhattan. The organization operates the largest chain of for-profit schools in Africa; this year it's expanding beyond Kenya and Uganda into Nigeria while serving more than 120,000 students, all taught by local, Bridge-trained instructors. Already, one in 100 Kenyan students attends a Bridge academy—and outperforms peers at neighboring schools in reading (scoring 35% higher than average) and math (19%), with results continuing to improve. The company's wildly ambitious goal: to educate 10 million students per year by 2025.