6/11/19—The Ethel Walker School recently received a prestigious $250,000 Edward E. Ford Foundation Educational Leadership Grant to support the school’s new Capabilities Approach program. This grant requires a 1:1 match from the school community, and only six schools nationally were selected for this honor.
Capabilities Approach arms students with the skills needed to become lasting leaders and social justice advocates. The program focuses on the acquisition of a constellation of skills that allow for challenge and failure, with the end goal being a comprehensive understanding of each skill. The ten capabilities are divided into four categories—fluencies, discoveries, agencies, and a self-selected capability—and range from self-defense to financial fluency to sustenance and sustainability and more. The program is intended to promote collaboration and teamwork, and it embraces a “bolstering” model of learning that rewards both individual resiliency and supportiveness towards other students.
“At Walker’s, we are reimagining girls’ education in a way that seeks to disrupt gendered mindsets. This program will help us create an environment where girls will bolster each other to achieve functional mastery of a variety of capabilities,” said Walker’s Head of School Dr. Meera Viswanathan. “I was drawn to the thinking of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and his work on justice and the capabilities approach. He suggests that justice is measured by the ability of a person to engage in an array of actions or ‘do-ings’ that help one realize one’s full potential according to one’s own system of values. Walker’s Capabilities Approach is inspired by Sen’s research and will focus more specifically on the iterative process of success and failure as necessary stages of girls’ learning.”