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Why Applying for the YASS Prize Is a Game-Changer for Innovative Educators

Hey Y'all, it's me! Iman Alleyne of Kind Academy and Yass Prize Semi-Finalist of 2022. With only a few days left to apply - here are some whys and how to apply and be a part of this amazing experience.

What is The YASS Prize?

The Yass Prize – considered the Pulitzer Prize of Education Innovation – which is a nationwide effort to find, reward, and help expand best-in-class education providers. So far in 2023, more than $20 million has been given to awardees who have demonstrated commitment to the principles of Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless education. You can see more at

Over the past few months I have been contacted with questions from other innovative educators who want to apply for The YASS Prize. Some of the questions I have gotten are what was it like to apply? Why did I apply? What do I think they are looking for? What do I think I did differently to get so far in this competition? In this article I will answer that and more.

Why I Applied and You Should, Too!

1. Recognition and Validation: A Global Stage for Innovators

The YASS Prize provides an amazing platform for innovative school founders to gain recognition and validation on a global scale. As educators, we often toil away in our programs, tirelessly working to improve education. The YASS Prize recognizes the hard work and dedication of individuals who are pushing the boundaries of traditional education, giving your innovative ideas the visibility they deserve. Winning this prize not only bolstered our confidence but also opened doors to collaboration and networking opportunities with like-minded pioneers in the field.

2. Funding and Resources: Accelerating Your Vision

Innovation requires resources, and the YASS Prize offered a significant financial boost to support our vision and initiatives. With the prize money, you can invest in your program. Additionally, winning the YASS Prize often attracts sponsors and partners who are equally passionate about transforming education. These additional resources can help you take your innovative program to new heights, accelerating the impact of your work.

3. Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: A Community of Trailblazers

The YASS Prize brings together a diverse community of education innovators from around the country. This network of like-minded educators is invaluable for collaboration, idea exchange, and mutual support. By joining this vibrant community, you gain access to a treasure trove of knowledge, experience, and best practices. From virtual meet-ups and conferences to online forums and workshops, the YASS Prize community fosters a culture of sharing and growth, ensuring that your innovative ideas continue to evolve and flourish.

4. Amplified Impact: Scaling Innovations for Greater Reach

Education is a powerful force for change, and the YASS Prize recognizes the potential of innovative school models to revolutionize the entire education landscape. Winning the prize gives your program a platform to showcase your unique approach and methodologies. We were able to help launch 10 more Kind Microschools using funding from this amazing prize. This exposure can attract attention from policymakers, educational institutions, and stakeholders, enabling you to scale your innovative practices even further. By leveraging the YASS Prize, you can amplify the impact of your ideas, transforming not only your own educational community but also inspiring change on a broader scale.

5. Personal and Professional Growth: A Catalyst for Innovation

Applying for and participating in the YASS Prize is a challenging and transformative experience for personal and professional growth. The application process itself encourages self-reflection and a deep dive into the core principles and values of your innovative program. It pushes you to articulate your vision, challenges, and achievements, and as a result, you gain clarity and a deeper understanding of your own mission. Additionally, the interactions and feedback received during the prize selection process provide invaluable insights and fresh perspectives, driving continuous innovation in your educational journey.

At Kind Academy, the YASS Prize challenged us to our limits. It pushed us to dig deep, confront our vulnerabilities, and strive for excellence. We faced obstacles and setbacks along the way, but it was through these challenges that we grew stronger and more resilient. The YASS Prize became a catalyst for our innovation, propelling us forward with renewed determination and passion.

How to Apply:

Highlight Your Innovative Approach Using The Principles of STOP Education:

The YASS Prize is deeply rooted in the principles of STOP education - Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless education When applying for the YASS Prize, it is crucial to showcase how your innovative school truly embodies the principles of STOP education. Sustainable practices that ensure long-term success, transformational approaches that revolutionize traditional education, outstanding outcomes that elevate student learning, and permissionless initiatives that empower students and educators should be at the forefront of your application. Highlight how your school's philosophy and methodologies align with these principles to demonstrate your commitment to transformative education. Sail Future was one of the finalists who won last year and their school is truly transformative! They take their kids sailing and learn core content from this awesome skill.

Speak From Your Heart

When crafting your YASS Prize application, remember to speak from the heart. Share your personal journey as a founder and educator, highlighting the challenges you've overcome and the milestones you've achieved. The founder of Soar Academy, an amazing microschool, rocked her pitch during the contest. I am sure this is one of the reasons this program was chosen as a finalist last year! Convey your passion and dedication to transforming education, and explain how these drive your innovative practices. By sharing your authentic story, you create a powerful connection with the selection committee, allowing them to understand the motivation behind your work and the personal impact it has had on you. Let your passion shine through, and let the YASS Team see your commitment to making a difference.

Demonstrating Educational Impact: Showcase Tangible Results

One of the key elements the YASS Prize seeks to recognize is the impact your innovative practices have had on education. Use your application to showcase concrete examples of how your school has positively influenced students' lives and learning experiences. Highlight measurable outcomes such as improved academic performance, increased student engagement, enhanced critical thinking skills, or positive changes in the school culture. Rapunzl’s free financial literacy app came with so much data showing how it had impacted learners. Sharing data, testimonials, and success stories will substantiate the effectiveness of your methods and reinforce the educational impact of your innovative school. Don't shy away from presenting the transformative changes that have taken place within your educational community.

Be Yourself: Embrace Your Unique Identity

When applying for the YASS Prize, remember to be yourself. Embrace the uniqueness and individuality of your innovative programs. Avoid the temptation to imitate other successful models or fit into a mold. Instead, focus on showcasing the distinct qualities and approaches that set your school apart. One thing programs like Kind Academy, UnCommon Construction, Kai Pod Learning, Black Mother's Forum, Lab School of Memphis, Engaged Detroit, and Arizona Autism Charter School (the big winner of the $1 million Yass Prize 2022) all have are their unique identities. Celebrate your school's culture, values, and community, and let these elements shine through in your application. The YASS Prize celebrates diversity and recognizes the value of different innovative perspectives. By being true to yourself and your school's identity, you present an authentic and compelling case for why your innovative practices deserve recognition.

As you embark on the journey of applying for the YASS Prize, remember to focus on embodying the principles of STOP education, speaking from your heart, demonstrating educational impact, and being true to yourself. The YASS Prize is a chance to unleash the power of your innovation and make a lasting mark on education. By showcasing the transformative nature of your school, sharing your authentic passion, highlighting the measurable impact, and embracing your uniqueness, you position yourself as a strong contender for this prestigious recognition. So, seize the opportunity and let your innovative practices shine through in your application for the YASS Prize.

Ready to get started? Apply here:


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