Strategic Grant-Making & Impact Investment

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Content Area Analysis & Expertise

Personalized Learning Working Definition

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Challenge

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to support innovation that can improve U.S. K-12 public schools and ensure that students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college. To accomplish such a dramatic increase in college readiness, particularly among low-income and minority students, the foundation believes that personalized learning must be the norm for all students in all content areas. While innovative education organizations are iterating on cutting-edge ideas across the country, the Gates Foundation realized that the sector lacked a coherent and consistent definition of personalized learning.

Our Solution

The Gates Foundation brought in CA Group to shepherd the process of developing a Personalized Learning Working Definition in conjunction with schools implementing personalized learning and other thought partners across the country. To inform the foundation’s process, CA Group hosted two operator workshops with schools and other education organizations in the personalized learning space and conducted workshop calls with other thought partners, such as CSGF and Silicon Schools. Additionally, CA Group pressure-tested the working definition through a set of tools to determine how well the definition mapped to schools currently utilizing aspects of personalized learning.

During the development of the Personalized Learning Working Definition, a “Community of Innovative Practice” (CIP) formed, comprised of some of the most innovative organizations in personalized learning. This CIP meets biannually for a two-day convening, and the Personalized Learning Working Definition continues to drive the conversation about personalized learning and the development of tools and resources aimed at supporting schools in making the transition to personalized learning in their classrooms.


The Personalized Learning Working Definition continues to evolve based on school, thought partner, and research feedback. It has been featured in Gates Foundation Next Generation Learning Challenge materials, research documents, and articles including:


  • Blueprint Education Consulting
  • gravitytank

CA Group Team Members

Cat Alexander