The power of purpose-driven education. Life beyond the classroom

June 27, 2022

Jayde Robertson

If you’ve been following our blog, you would have been privy to the launch of our disruptive and innovative educational institution series. This is a series that we value greatly, and its core mission is to shine a light on industry-leading, and positively disruptive education companies and institutions. With a focus on technology and innovation in education, combined with creative teaching methods, this series aims to highlight the institutions that are disrupting (higher) education. If you’re an education company, institution or school - and you believe that you’re a pioneer, a changemaker or a disruptor, then we want to feature you! Submit your contributions here to feature in one of our next articles.

These are businesses that lead the way in terms of innovation, social impact, and community upliftment. On a global scale, they are empowering their students via education. These are the businesses that make us pleased to work in this field. Almost everyone agrees that the typical educational system is out of date. Pink Orange's goal is to assist forward-thinking institutions in growing because they are the ones who are educating and empowering a new generation of purpose-driven leaders.

As a follow-up to our article featuring some of the most innovative and diverse Media and Design institutions, we’re excited to introduce you to the world of Purpose-Driven Institutions! These organizations exist to disrupt the status quo, to reshape the way that education and learning are viewed - effectively facilitating the rise of a generation of future leaders, driven by the deep-rooted purpose ingrained into them.

Here we feature 3 institutions that are each in their own right, reshaping the future for the next generation of leaders.

First things first

At Pink Orange, we value many things - in fact, one of the reasons behind doing what we do is to become a valuable contributor to a changed - and improved world. Sure, that might seem like a massive undertaking, but it’s what we’re here for! It’s why we exist, and it keeps us motivated, day in and day out. Being a part of an industry where we are privy to witnessing institutions strive for change makes it all worthwhile.

The power behind a purpose-driven institution

Engaging the youth beyond just a curriculum, through sustainable values that transcend simply applying for a job.

Purpose-driven learning, or PDL for short - is a concept initially coined by both Michael Matera and Adam Moreno to summarise the philosophy that each learner has an ability that transcends simply learning during a given time period. This mantra demonstrates that each learner's unique (and valuable) inner strengths can be unlocked by focusing on education with a purpose. This entire philosophy challenges the traditional framework of education - and by following such guidelines, educators avoid the biggest pitfall known to the industry: focusing on the theory, with little to no value in a real-world environment.

In the end, learning moves from pedantic to powerful. Overwhelming to engage, and students truly learn how to connect their academic knowledge to the world outside of their school.

Without further ado, let's introduce you to our top three purpose-driven institutions: Amani Institute, The Tomorrow University of Applied Science, and On Purpose!

Amani Institute - Developing individuals and organisations that lead Social Impact

Globally, our most pressing issues transcend national borders, demanding not only interdisciplinary thinking but also the integration of diverse experiences in order to comprehend them. These exigencies urge problem-solvers to put their entire selves into the service of long-term transformation.

Say hello to Amani Institute - an organisation that aims to build, form, and nurture future leaders who not only see but appreciate the urgency behind a world that requires drastic intervention.

Envisioning a community of global changemakers

How do you prepare people to make a difference in the world? How do you teach and facilitate organisations in developing talent -  while encouraging a sustainable impact? Founded a decade ago in the up-and-coming region of Kenya, an emerging market and social innovation hub - Amani Institute was born out of the dream and passion of two like-minded individuals, Roshan Paul and Ilaina Rabbat. With a single and ambitious goal of creating the world's equivalent of a medical school for change-making, where technical and soft skills, practice, and inner work would enable global "doctors" to provide cures for the world's citizens and the planet itself, changing mindsets and behaviours.

Amani Institute CEO - Daniel Bennet believes that fostering universal talent is a crucial component of social change, “The challenges our world faces are so vast, urgent, and interconnected that they require the talents of as many brilliant and innovative people as possible to solve. Most of this talent is not currently channelled into work that focuses primarily on change-making. We envision a world where this is flipped – a world where people can go to work to make a difference – where our collective human energy is channelled into purpose-driven work that provides both the necessary talent and focus on solving our shared challenges. We recognise that accomplishing this requires system-level shifts in the incentives, social, and economic forces that drive the nature of work. Our specific contribution is developing individuals and organisations to lead this change by equipping them with the skills and mindsets to produce impact-first work while building fulfilling careers and thriving organisations.”

“When we launched Amani Institute in 2011, we had a bold dream: to offer a new model of higher education, originating in the Global South, for social impact professionals, accessible to people all over the world.”

– Roshan Paul and Ilaina Rabbat, Amani Institute Co-Founders

Amani Institute now has offices in Kenya, India, and Brazil, with a workforce of nine different nationalities and a faculty of more than 50 impact practitioners. The objective of the organization is to prepare individuals and companies to become thoughtful leaders of social change. Amani Institute accomplishes this through a variety of in-person and online programs, courses, customized training, conferences, and community activities that reach over 10,000 people annually across five continents.

The facilitation and teaching methods used by Amani Institute are specifically designed to stimulate and promote adult development shifts or "stage transitions." This approach is used to educate various issues in four primary areas: leadership, innovation, communication, and entrepreneurship.

Its award-winning post-graduate certificate in Social Innovation Management is available in a 5-month wholly digital and 6-month hybrid format (with the next edition running from June to December 2022, with three months online and 3 months immersion phases in Nairobi, Kenya). More than 600 Fellows from 70 countries have already graduated and are working for renowned global organizations including Unicef, Ashoka, and the World Wildlife Fund. Some have gone on to launch their own social enterprises, or are promoting change from within institutions or private corporations.

Regardless of the program - the outcome and the focus remain the same, with Amani Institute placing a high value on encouraging participants to internalize and apply its transformative learning process to real-world applications. Whether it's through their flagship program, or customized organizational training delving into negotiation skills, social innovation, or mindset shifting - participants learn how to consciously hold themselves accountable. This is done by encouraging learners to intentionally hold their own worldview and foundational belief systems - while critically examining how these pillars bring meaning to their lives. They are inspired to keep; change - or transform their identity and mental model, instead of simply being subjected to them.  

"Our best work happens when we're doing something we do well, but also doing it in service of a greater cause that is meaningful to us personally, where we have a compelling answer to the question: "Does what I'm doing even matter?" When we have both purpose and skill, we perform well, good things happen, and we're satisfied with our lives and careers. Without both things, we stagnate. Many programs focus on skills, helping you learn to do something well. However, this is just half the equation – it's equally important to learn what satisfies your desire for purpose and meaning. This half is often neglected in training programs. At Amani Institue, we typically start with our "Inner Journey" course, which helps participants clarify their purpose, and then align the skill and career development work around that."

– Daniel Bennett, CEO, Amani Institute

This approach is crucial to managing both complexities and polarities, navigating change and conflict, and inspiring a generation of future leaders and more effective citizens. It is this kind of perspective on personal and professional development that has been brought to light as one of the most pressing world issues that demand attention.

Through Amani Institute’s programs, learners become the leaders that the world needs - and discover how to navigate the increasingly complex pace of the modern world. Their unique methodology prioritized experiential, practical, and reflective group work over the traditional academic approach.

As a registered non-profit organization, Amani Institute keeps the cost of tuition accessible to all groups and demographics, ensuring a fair chance for all those who wish to pursue change and sustainable impact.

To learn more about the Amani Institute, or how their programs can make a difference in your life or the sustainability of your organization, visit them here!

Tomorrow University - Choosing Degrees with a purpose

It’s not news that we are living in an evolving world. We’re plagued with new-age problems - ones that require a unique, and sustainable solution. Universities have a role to play in becoming a force for good in an era when many businesses are shifting toward purpose, accountability, and sustainability. While many higher education institutions strive to be the finest in the world, others are making changes to become the greatest in the world. A movement has started.

Say hello to Tomorrow University of Applied Sciences, an institution that prides itself on equipping its learners with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in a world that craves sustainability. Through its revolutionary approach to education, Tomorrow University aims to build a community of empowered - and connected individuals who they believe will create a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.

With an ambitious mission of creating and developing people that together build a sustainable future, Co-CEOs and Founders Christian Rebernik and Thomas Funke demonstrate an unwavering passion for their mission, and in line with their values - pursue greatness.  During an interview, they stated, "We need people shaping the future, we need people that have the competencies of the 21st-century — the change-makers, the ones that are able to discover opportunities and develop solutions. We need as many as possible."

The Tomorrow University of Applied Sciences is a consistent next step in the fulfillment of an ambitious concept. "We aim to give more students access to a 21st-century education and the opportunity to be a member of a global and exciting community," says CEO Christian Rebernik.

Tomorrow's Education began with the belief that through challenge-based education, people from all over the world might make a difference. To bring this vision to life, serial entrepreneur Christian Rebernik and academic Dr. Thomas Funke teamed up. They came up with the idea while homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic's lockdown when they noticed how archaic educational institutions had simply been moved to a new media. The answer was Tomorrow's Education. Both Funke and Rebernik clarify that technology is not an end in and of itself, but rather a means of making learning more powerful.

A broad collection of leaders was chosen as valued members of the University Council to support this purpose. This vital University body will be made up of Céline Flores Willers, Eliot Gattegno, Dr. Kai Roemmelt, Adeola Ogunwole, and Stephanie Kaiser. The University Council brings together members of the professors, students, and administration to discuss matters that affect the entire university. They will work together to steer the university along the path of Tomorrow University's goal of empowering one million changemakers globally by 2030.  

CEO, Christian Rebernik states: “The University Council for ToU has been carefully selected  - we know these members will bring their experience and expertise to further our mission in making a better tomorrow, starting today”.

If you’d like to learn more about these outstanding leaders and their commitment to creating a positive impact on the world, visit their profiles here!

The transition to a sustainable society starts today.

Through a combination of state-of-the-art learning in the fields of science and technology - Tomorrow university effectively creates flexible, accessible, and sustainable learning experiences that equip students with the key elements for impact - purpose, capability, and community. Through continuous learning, application, and collaboration - the team at Tomorrow University aims to cultivate a mindset of growth and self-efficacy in order to expand their learner's circle of influence, turning them into confident agents of change.

With a goal of accelerating the transition to a more sustainable society by revolutionizing education, the institution prides itself on teaching differently, creating emerging leaders that leave a lasting and positive impact on the world.

With both bachelor's and master's degrees available, Tomorrow University applies a remote-first approach to learning, allowing students to build 21st-century skills in the areas of sustainability, entrepreneurship, and technology.

As a community of perpetual learners, the team at Tomorrow University designed their programs and curriculums with flexibility in mind - capable of adapting to continuous change and updated skillsets. Students are given the opportunity to choose from a variety of challenges during their program, inspired by scenarios adapted from the real-world environment - and through solving them, develop the necessary skills required to succeed in a digital-first world.

Tomorrow University's metaverse campus allows students to participate in an unmatched learning experience. Learners from all over the world stay connected as they work on major issues with the help of a world-class network of mentors from top enterprises. The learning methodology is built on challenge-based learning, which means that the curriculum is focused on solving real-world problems that learners will face in their intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial endeavors. Personal and professional growth can be scaled by completing these challenges with an experienced peer group to learn from and grow with.

Since 2021, Tomorrow's Education has worked with the WU Executive Academy, which provides a top-ranked Executive MBA program. They collaborate to offer an alternate MBA program: Professional Master's Program in Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, and Technology with dual accreditation. Learners will develop an entrepreneurial mentality as well as technological abilities that will assist in the transition to a more sustainable society.

The university is actively pursuing its own accreditation and intends to provide three different Bachelor's Degree programs.

Following the announcement of a funding round of  €3.4 million to fuel the development of future innovators and leaders, the institution aims to enable the development and nurturing of future innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs - making sustainable impact an accessible component, all while enabling its learners to learn the most in-demand skills of the 21st century.

Investment lead, Mediahuis Ventures states, “The EdTech market not only offers attractive prospects and opportunities for growth, but it also fits in with Mediahuis’ mission which is to provide independent news and information, thereby making a positive contribution to people and society. For this reason, we support high-growth, cutting-edge startups that are leveraging emerging technologies to re-imagine the way people learn and work. ToU is a very promising player, engaging students in a new kind of metaverse learning experience. We believe in its revolutionary approach to education and see the potential for continued growth.”

To find out more about Tomorrow University or to apply for one of their programs, visit them here!

On Purpose - Developing leaders who will help transform the economy

The world is in the midst of transformation, and it needs an economy that aligns with this shift in narrative. One that works for all, and that operates within the means of our planet - one that works without the injustices plaguing the world today. To achieve this, a fundamental shift is required - one that is led by people who transform the organisations in which they work - from an economy of profit to an economy of purpose. One that serves the well-being of all - now - and tomorrow.

Say hello to On Purpose, the home for these leaders. A community that develops, challenges - and sustains both itself and others - one that aims to facilitate this changing economy.

On Purpose holds the belief that everyone has the ability to become a leader. Their stance is that leadership is not connected to - or dependent on hierarchical position. Leadership comes from taking on the responsibility to incite change, no matter your position in an organization. Learning, therefore, needs to be experiential. All On Purpose Associates work in a full-time placement - where they apply directly, and in real-time, what they learn on the job.

With a high value on collaboration, On Purpose has designed its programs to generate close-knit cohorts of 20 Associates who learn, discover and transform - together. This approach leads to the creation of a lifelong network of inspiration and support - ensuring that transformation continues long after completing the program.

Through a focus on reflective practice, the team at On Purpose creates a space for reflection - a critical component of enabling successful learning. With a 1:1 support system in place, each student is paired with both a mentor and a coach who provide their students with support throughout their journey, teaching them to problem solve, step back and reflect, and challenge themselves through transformative experiences.

Learning from practitioners, and not academics ensures an environment of applied learning. The faculty who provide training sessions are those simply applying what they have learned through real-world experiences. Their Associate Programme has been developed as a unique opportunity to explore different sectors, while both upskilling - and changing the trajectory of your career towards one that drives a sustainable economic impact.

“The power of this network that you get access to as an On Purpose Associate really is one of the biggest selling points of the program. I am now part of an amazing group of human beings that are doing impactful things in the world and who I can always reach out to.”
Roser PreussOctober 2020 Fellow

The award-winning organization places emphasis on developing both outer, and inner abilities. In other words, they encourage their students to develop both personally and professionally. Their emerging set of principles has been designed to drive regenerative impact and improvement while developing the holistic nature of its students.

With a focus on participation and exchange, the power of a good question, systems, and connections - as well as exploration and innovation - On Purpose has so far seen over 800 Associates, boasting an outcome of over 92% of Fellows who have continued to create social and environmental impact long after course completion.

When asked how they aim to achieve such an ambitious goal, CEO Tom Rippin stated, “ Ultimately, change happens in people and we are changing people one at a time and getting them to use their most precious assets, i.e. their time and talents, to work towards a new and healthy economy. By working deeply with a relatively small number of people we can ensure that they go through a transformational process that equips them to transform the organizations in which they work and help bring about a healthy economy. Wherever they choose to continue their careers after the program, they will continue learning, they will apply what they now know and they will "infect" others with the ideas they carry within themselves.”

Applications for the October 2022 cohort of the Associate Programme are now closed. Register your interest for the April 2023 cohort and be the first to know when applications open in Autumn.

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