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News Release

The Center for Universal Education at Brookings receives $24 million grant from the LEGO Foundation

Monday, February 6, 2023

Washington, D.C. — The Brookings Institution announced today that the Center for Universal Education (CUE) in the Global Economy and Development program has received a $24 million grant, the largest in Brookings’s history, from the LEGO Foundation for a period of four years to support CUE’s strategic vision focused on holistic education, locally-defined priorities, and deep collaboration with partners.

“In the quest for universal social-economic prosperity, the importance of education and skills development cannot be overstated. We are very grateful for this gift, which will allow our experts in education to help inform and support local efforts at systems transformation,” said Brahima S. Coulibaly, vice president of the Global Economy and Development program.

Awarded on the Center’s 20-year anniversary, this catalytic funding will enable CUE to build an innovative collaborative research-to-practice network of actors across education ecosystems—primarily in the historically underrepresented Global South—around a shared goal of transforming education systems. A major element of the project includes funding for partner organizations to join the network leadership in co-designing research priorities with CUE.

“CUE’s new 10-year strategy builds on its strengths—its people, research, and networks and orientation toward reaching those from the most marginalized communities—and adapting approaches for greater impact,” said Rebecca Winthrop, Brookings senior fellow and director of CUE. “We seek to remedy large gaps in education systems by lifting up community voices and ensuring they have a platform for greater input and decision-making in the international education policy and funding arena.”

With this funding, CUE will collaborate with local actors across education ecosystems; civil society organizations (CSOs) will take a leadership role in co-creating research priorities and bringing the most important findings from local communities to international policy conversations. Informed by years of CUE’s ongoing research and the rich insights developed with a diversity of local partners, CUE will leverage this grant to answer critical questions in four central education areas:

  • Priorities and agendas that are defined locally: Where do local communities want to go, and what is needed to get there?
  • Collaboration and alignment: How can we work together with our network partners to co-create, co-design, and co-investigate to bring the most impactful findings from a diversity of local communities to international policy conversations?
  • Breadth of skills: How can we respond effectively and equitably to young people’s diverse and holistic learning needs, especially considering the significant inequalities that persist—and that were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic—in education systems around the world?
  • Systems transformation: How do we bring together the full ecosystem of education actors—from policymakers, researchers, and civil society organizations to educators, practitioners, young people, and families—to develop shared purpose and foster understanding and leadership about systemic education change?

By expanding education systems’ objectives to include not just academic competencies but also a breadth of skills, CUE and its CSO partners will contribute to the vision outlined in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: Equitable and relevant education that helps everyone become a lifelong learner.

“Children across the world are facing a confluence of challenges, from economic, social to environmental, hindering their potential to learn. The LEGO Foundation is proud to support the Center for Universal Education to build a community of civil society organizations who could help address some of these challenges” Netsanet Belay, vice president, head of Advocacy, Communications and Partnerships, LEGO Foundation said. “This work will help to transform education systems so children can thrive and grow by becoming creative, engaged, lifelong learners.”

“Over the last two decades, the Center for Universal Education has been at the forefront of global policy research that helps all students, especially those from the most marginalized communities, gain the critical skills they need to thrive,” said Amy Liu, interim president of the Brookings Institution. “The extraordinary support from the LEGO Foundation speaks to what stakeholders around the world already know: Brookings is trusted by policymakers and civil society members who seek to be better informed and connected so they can make a difference locally, nationally, and globally.”

In an upcoming February 17th Brookings full-day symposium, CUE will announce and share more information about the global network and how CSOs can apply to get involved. Details on funding to support and develop the research-to-practice network for the next four years will be forthcoming.

For more information on the Brookings public event and to register, see here.

For more information on CUE’s 10-year vision and the LEGO grant, see here.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.