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Skills that grow understanding

The dangers of misinformation are growing—but so is our ability to equip young people with the skills they need in a challenging world.

We are an independent charity that was established inside The Economist newspaper by colleagues with a passion for education. We combine 175 years of journalistic expertise with deep educational know-how to develop high-quality topical discussions in schools.

Why we exist

Open minds make open futures

In this digital age, young people need the skills to spot misinformation and have open-minded exchanges with people with whom they disagree. Inclusive, constructive conversations are crucial for tackling the global challenges they face, from inequality to climate change. In the future workplace, they’ll need to understand social, political and economic issues, and have the critical-thinking and communication skills that develop through debate and discussion.

Yet education systems have not caught up with the challenges facing young people in the modern world.

  • Employers consistently call for graduates to have better critical-thinking, communication skills and awareness of the wider world. (CBI, 2019)

  • Under 4% of young people in the UK or US have the critical literacy skills to tell if a news story is real or fake (National Literacy Trust, 2018; Stanford University, 2019)

What we do

Critical thinking in action
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We equip young people with the critical-thinking, communication skills and knowledge they need, by enabling them to join inspiring discussions about the news. This draws in other young people across the world, building bridges across social, cultural and national divides to create conversation that is truly life-changing.

Our results

Making progress last a lifetime

We prioritise young people with the greatest need by working with teachers whose students are disadvantaged or underserved.

Young people who regularly take part in our signature discussions can make five times more progress in critical thinking, communication skills and current-affairs knowledge.

They become people who can listen, creatively solve problems, find common ground and communicate effectively about real-world issues. These skills are proven to improve life outcomes. They’re essential for success in school and at work, and they’re vital for cohesive communities and healthy democracies.

When schools closed and millions of children were learning from home during the pandemic, we took the immediate step of producing weekly news resources for home learning. In 2020-21, our teaching resources were downloaded 160,000 times, reaching 141 countries. Our programme was recognised by HundrED.org, a global education charity, as one of the most impactful and scalable education innovations globally.

We have a reputation for excellence in impact measurement and we are a SkillsBuilder Level 4 impact organisation.

Our ambitions

A transformative mission

Our work has never been more important and we have ambitious plans to scale up our impact. We want high-quality discussions about the news to become commonplace in schools, and our four-year goal is to reach a million young people globally. We are focused not only on growing our reach but on continuing to deepen our impact by supporting passionate teachers to have in-depth, regular topical discussions in their classrooms.

We rely on our funders and partners to help us deliver and grow our work. If you would like to help more young people join vitally-important conversations, we would love to hear from you.