Wendy Kopp Receives the WISE Prize for Education

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“Complex problems can only be solved by many people working together—no one person can do it alone.”

Wendy Kopp, CEO & Co-founder, Teach For All 

We’re thrilled to announce that Teach For All’s CEO and Co-founder, Wendy Kopp, was awarded the 2021 WISE Prize for Education at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Doha, Qatar, this week. Wendy received the honor for “developing through Teach For All the concept that meaningful, sustainable education change needs leaders who are rooted in their communities, and believe in the potential to transform them so as to deliver the opportunities all children deserve.”

Established in 2009 by the Qatar Foundation, the WISE Prize for Education is the first global distinction of its kind to acknowledge individuals for their outstanding contributions to education. “The work of the 2021 Laureate embodies the values of the WISE Prize,” said WISE CEO Stavros Yiannouka during the award ceremony. “Teach For All is a movement that demonstrates that it is possible to be global in scale and scope, while at the same time remaining deeply rooted in local contexts and cultures.”

“This is a tribute to the whole Teach For All community,” Wendy shared. “To all the social entrepreneurs and team members who’ve given life to the work of our global network in their countries, all the network’s teachers and alumni across the world who have poured their hearts and souls into the effort to ensure that all children fulfill their potential, and also our global team members who work so hard to foster learning and accelerate progress across our network.” 

In her address during the event’s closing ceremony, Wendy recounted three key lessons she’s learned over the course of a career fighting inequity that began at the age of 21. "I’ve come to believe that if we can act on these three learnings—by reorienting education towards the purpose of developing students who can shape a better future, making intentional efforts to develop locally rooted collective leadership for realizing this purpose, and creating opportunities for these local leaders to learn from each other across borders—we can change the trajectory of the world." (Watch the video of the full address.)

Also at WISE, Teach For All hosted the panel Learning Through Crisis: Leadership and Innovation in Education. Moderated by Reem Marto, head of Teach For All’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the panel featured a conversation between Mihaela Busca, Teach For Romania alumna and physics teacher; Tiany Gamarra, Enseña por Colombia alumna and Training Coordinator at A Prender la Onda, an educator-led initiative developed during the pandemic to produce audio lessons for radio broadcast; and ​​​​Womala Ivan Samuel, a current Teach For Uganda fellow. During the discussion, panelists reflected on their journeys to keep kids learning during the pandemic and what they learned in the process. Among many other insights, all three panelists highlighted the importance of collaboration and collective leadership in achieving real progress. “Everyone has a role to play in making sure children are going to school,” Ivan Samuel said. “There is nothing more incredible than engaging every stakeholder to have shared responsibility towards social transformation.” (Watch the full panel recording.)

To learn more about Wendy Kopp’s journey, watch this profile produced by WISE. Read Wendy’s Closing Plenary address or watch the video for more on the lessons she’s learned and her call to determined, thoughtful, innovative young adults around the world to channel their energy into working together with marginalized communities to transform the systems around children who have the potential to reshape the world.