Aspen Institute Launches “In Focus,” a New Multimedia Series that Tackles Society’s Greatest Challenges

August 27, 2020

The first installment focuses on equity in education, the future of learning, and the new school year

Contact: Jon Purves
The Aspen Institute
Senior Media Relations Manager

Washington, DC, August 27, 2020 – The Aspen Institute today launches In Focus, a new solutions-focused series that brings clear, diverse perspectives to the challenges shaping the world during a historic period of change and uncertainty. The multimedia project collates events, articles, op-eds, research, and interviews from dozens of distinct Aspen Institute policy programs and their networks across key themes, providing a platform to present the organization’s work to new audiences and elevate untold stories from people connected to the Aspen Institute.

Featured content will bring the Institute’s policy experts together with the Aspen Institute’s extensive networks spanning grassroots organizers, CEOs, student activists, and national lawmakers. The first installment is on the theme “Equity in Education,” exploring structural inequities in the US education system, how the COVID-19 pandemic and a national reckoning on race have exacerbated those inequities, and where the US goes from here. A kickoff event on August 26 featured Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, and parent leader Waukecha Wilkerson discussing how racial justice issues impact our school system in the immediate wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

In Focus is a powerful new platform that will showcase the best work of the Aspen Institute and our commitment to tackling society’s most pressing challenges,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “It will provide a new opportunity for our programs and staff to collaborate and demonstrate the breadth of their expertise, as well as the unique diversity of our networks. Our education system warrants urgent discussion, and it is fitting that In Focus will begin by asking how to deliver every student the future they deserve.”

Sign up here to receive regular updates from In Focus by email, or view content in the series online here.

Over multiple emails and online, the first installment will explore four interconnected but distinct themes in education – reopening during COVID-19, equity and racial justice in education, responding to the needs of students and parents, and higher education.

Examples of featured content at launch includes:

  • How Elected Leaders Can Support Schools (event):
    The Aspen Institute’s Education & Society and Ascend programs organize a discussion featuring Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, and the Institute’s Waukecha Wilkerson, Learning Program Content Consultant at Cell-Ed and the Institute’s Ascend PSP Parent Advisor, on what elected leaders can do given their varying levels of influence over public education.
  • Advancing Public Education Post-Crisis (report): The nation’s response to the pandemic must restore the promise of public education as an engine of opportunity. In a new report, the Education & Society Program proposes five principles to guide recovery and renewal.
  • Criminalization of Black Girls (podcast): An increasing number of Black girls are subject to policies and punishment that police them at school. The debut episode of the Institute’s new podcast, Shades of Freedom, from the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, asks: how did we get here?
  • The Digital Divide’s Impact on Students (event): The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the widening digital divide, with families who live in poverty and communities of color at the greatest disadvantage. As more learning moves online, Aspen Digital addresses the growing “homework gap.”
  • Return to Youth Sports (risk assessment tool): The Sports & Society program developed resources that help leaders, coaches, and parents adjust to the impacts of COVID-19. The Return to Play risk assessment tool, created with the support of medical experts, helps decision-makers assess the potential repercussions of restarting sport and recreational activities.

Editor’s note: Members of the press interested in interviewing experts and individuals affiliated with the Aspen Institute, or who would like to learn more about our policy work, should contact Jon Purves for more information:

During COVID-19, the Aspen Institute has pivoted to meet the challenges of the moment, moving programming online and making its work more accessible than ever before. In Focus complements Aspen Ideas Now, a weekly series from the team behind the Aspen Ideas Festival which curates timely conversations and elevates formidable leaders, inspiring thinkers, and remarkable stories. Visit here to learn more and subscribe to receive weekly emails from Aspen Ideas Now.


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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