We created the Collins Institute for families like us.
When we had kids, we took a look at the existing options for education and advancements that had been made to the system since we went to school. We were mortified to find that little been tried in terms of new educational models and, if anything, many school systems had regressed into factories of conformity. Even newer "start-up" school models fundamentally educate in the same basic way, with a gimmick here or there.
The Institute's Board
One of the most important education reform advocates of our generation, AJ Crabill, has held senior positions in the Texas Education Agency, Kansas City Public Schools, and the Council of the Great City Schools. Through his work, AJ fights to resolve bureaucracies' systemic failures to help students flourish.
Jonathan Soto lead the Princeton Review's marketing and sales efforts through one of its periods of highest growth. A prolific entrepreneur whose latest startup brings fresh, affordable, healthy food to urban food deserts, Jonathan also served a key role in the early ST Unitas team, creating one of Korea's most used education platforms.
Currently, Esther spearheads education projects at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. An international expert on bleeding-edge education projects, Esther also works to augment international human rights law and has a history as a successful entrepreneur, founding a leading travel company, Tripcipe, and bringing it to a successful exit.
A neuroscientist-turned-entrepreneur-turned-VC-turned education innovator, Malcolm Collins, one of Amazon's top 100 best selling non-fiction writers, wrote three bestselling books while professionalizing companies that pull in $70M/yr. In his spare time he speaks to aspiring entrepreneurs (at Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, etc.)
As the Sub-Saharan Africa Chief Commercial Officer of Novartis (the world's second largest pharmaceutical company), Emmanuel orchestrates the delivery of life-saving medicines and therapies to millions of people. Having formerly worked with Merck in Germany, Emmanuel also lead the World Economic Forum's Value Based Healthcare Practice.
Simone Collins studies the dynamics that produce human flourishing and high impact. Having relinquished a leadership post at one of the world's most exclusive private societies to lead the Institute with Malcolm, Simone also spearheads a project at Schmidt Futures to maximize the impact of exceptional professionals and leaders.
Our Partner Organizations
Santa Fe Institute is dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the fundamental principles of complex adaptive systems. The institute is ranked 24th among the world's top science and technology think tanks and 24th among the world's best transdisciplinary research think tanks. We leverage our participation in SFI's Applied Complexity Network (ACtioN for short) to help keep our scholars on the cutting edge of complexity science.
Santa Fe Institute
Metaculus is the world's most prestigious forecasting engine: A massive online prediction solicitation and aggregation network. Among other things, Metaculus predicts the timing, nature and impact of scientific and technological advances and breakthroughs. Through our partnership with Metaculus, we help our scholars learn through bets by creating rich opportunities to engage with and create prediction markets.
The Collins Institute is working with Teach for America's Reinvention lab—a Teach for America initiative helping visionary entrepreneurs and leaders reinvent or dramatically improve the American education system—to collaborate with fellow education disruptors and source meaningful opportunities and resources for our students.
Teach for America Reinvention Lab
The University of Austin is taking a fresh, de-politicized, results-oriented approach to higher education, prioritizing freedom of inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse. The Collins Institute is working with UATX to accelerate students' journeys into college coursework—and accumulation of transferable college credits—as soon as they're ready.
The University of Austin
Clearer Thinking is a leading nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals overcome bias. Their mission is to close the gap between insights from research about human behavior and actions in the real world. They build best-in-class, interactive tools and mini-courses designed to help individuals change habits, make better decisions, and achieve their goals. Collins Institute leverage these students to augment their performance and reasoning skills.
1517 Fund, which co-founded the Thiel Fellowship and now backs renegade students & deep tech scientists at the earliest stages of their companies through community support, angel investments, and cash grants (such as the Medici Project).
The 1517 Fund
The school system as we know it stems from a bureaucratic process designed to produce interchangeable colonial administrators for use within the British imperial empire. It was optimized to ensure any graduate could be slotted into a globe-spanning bureaucracy, competently replacing any other individual. In short, it was optimized to turn humans into replaceable parts.
While this system served its purpose adequately, we no longer operate within an eighteenth-century British empire. With the collapse of the lifelong corporate job, an individual's success is no longer assured through obedience to a hierarchy, but rather by ambition and self-motivation. This generation's ability to succeed will not be determined by how well-rounded they are, but by the skills at which they excel—so long as they do not fall cripplingly behind in anything.
Why, then, is our school system still optimized to produce obedient, interchangeable cogs?
A world-class mentor network
In addition to working with us and our tutors, Institute scholars have the opportunity to engage with a world-class mentor network comprised of best-in-class individuals who belive that they can positively influence the future by advancing the best and brightest of the next generation.
Founding Principles of The Collins Institute for the Gifted
Every action we take as an organization is predicated by these principles.
Rather than tell young scholars what to think, we equip students to think for themselves. "Experts" are not arbiters of truth. While a student may miss marks for failing to understand a field's going consensus, they will never be told what to believe.
Offense is Valuable
The feeling of offense is the brain's way of telling you something credibly challenges your world view. The ideas that offend us are those we must engage with most fervently—rather than the ideas that sit most comfortably in our minds.
The competency and privileges of a student are judged only by what they have accomplished. An especially gifted scholar could even find themselves managing our endowment. Adults are not better than students by virtue of age.
"School" is a Tool
School should be thought of as a tool wielded by young scholars to craft themselves.
School should not devolve into a factory working to produce a pre-prescribed product or uniform outputs.
The Institute is an active experiment, constantly iterating and improving through that iteration. In addition to measuring performance during a student's education, we follow the lives of graduates, adjusting our program based on knowledge of their outcomes.
Focus on the Individual
The Institute seeks to help students build the best possible versions of themselves. We refuse to deviate from that holistic goal by focusing only on traditional test scores. We care about and optimize around the manner in which students' skillsets are applied in the real world.
Why "The Collins Institute for the Gifted"?
While we are slightly embarrassed to have our family name in the school's title, when we ran a large survey around a dozen potential names, "The Collins Institute" outperformed the other more "fun" names handedly.