On Tuesday, our unofficial BOSS, Caine Monroy, joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other thought leaders in Washington D.C. for the “Reimagining Education: Empowering Learners in a Connected World” innovation summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The goal of the summit? To imagine a version of 21st Century education that recognizes that learning really is “happening everywhere” and explores innovative ways to: “Develop learning experiences that better connect in- and out-of-school learning; better connect all students to their passions, peers, communities and career; redesign our nation’s high schools to prepare our students for a connected world.”

10-year-old Caine joined NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, NBA All-Star Chris Paul, and other youth in the segment, “Youth: When Passion Leads to Learning.” When asked by Mitchell what had had the biggest influence on him, Caine responded “My dad because he gave me space.”

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This week’s summit has sparked more than one set of unlikely collaborators. Musician/producer Pharrell Williams and MacArthur Foundation’s Connie Yowell came together to co-author a piece on the summit, articulating their hopes for the future of education and the belief that “Our future is brilliant.”

An excerpt from ‘Reimagining Education“:

“Each day, across this great nation, teachers, parents, mentors and community institutions are winning — they are igniting students’ passions, challenging their minds and illuminating their paths to success. The days of unequal access to high quality educators, schools in crisis and communities feeling powerless to support them are soon coming to an end.


Working together we can continue to support teachers, students, school administrators and other leaders who want our children to have the best possible opportunities for success. We are excited that within the currently brewing positive perfect storm, in whatever small way we can, we are forwarding a conversation to help our nation’s youth learn in an increasingly connected world.

But maybe it’s best articulated in President Obama’s statement, “I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people… that encourage them to create and build and invent — to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.”

We’re with Pharrell and Connie and Obama. Let’s create, build, and invent our way to a future that’s brilliant.