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Education Landscapes

When I was little, my great grandfather Joe Albertson took me for Sunday drives. When he and my great grandmother Kathryn would see diapers drying on clotheslines and tricycles dotting sidewalks, they’d say, “This looks like a good spot for a store.”

As we launch Education Landscapes, I find we are still learning from Grandpa Joe’s example.

Joe and Kathryn Albertson
Joe and Kathryn Albertson

Grandpa Joe was an entrepreneur and innovator who invented the “super market”. With the help of a $5,000 loan from an aunt in 1939, he built his first Albertsons grocery store in the middle of a neighborhood in Boise, Idaho.

Critics scoffed at the location, how big the store was and how much attention was poured into design. But Grandpa Joe proved them wrong. By the ’60s, hundreds of Albertsons supermarkets sprung up in neighborhoods throughout the west. By the ’70s, sales reached a billion dollars.

That is when my great grandparents began quietly giving away some of their hard-earned money, most often to causes that benefited and provided an education for kids in their beloved Idaho. To them, education was the doorway to opportunity.

The Foundation has since grown, and we have a commitment to honor Joe and Kathryn’s legacy by devoting their incredible gift to improving education in Idaho.

In 16 years, our family foundation has invested more than $530 million dollars in Idaho education. Unfortunately, our investment has not yielded the results we had hoped for.

In 2013, Education Week ranked Idaho 48th among states for K-12 education. Idaho ranks in the bottom 10 states on numerous statistics relating to the percentage of students who go on and graduate with a four-year degree.  Only one-third of our young adult population has a two-year degree or more.

Two years ago, our family determined that our giving strategy did not challenge the status quo. In addition, it didn’t make the difference our kids so desperately needed. So we decided to get back to basics and start living by the principles that made our family be and feel successful.

Today our mission is to fuel the revolution in learning through awareness and innovation.

We support statewide awareness campaigns such as Go On Idaho and Don’t Fail Idaho because information is power and power creates change. Other awareness initiatives such as Idaho Education News and ED Sessions help shine a light on what’s working and turn up the heat on what’s not.

Our Foundation also supports and invests in innovation. The acceleration of innovative, high performing learning models such as Khan Academy in Idaho will generate better outcomes for all Idaho students no matter their zip code or economic circumstances.

Our goals are ambitious. To succeed, it’s going to take many of the qualities that my Grandpa Joe had: vision, an entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and leadership. But we believe in Idaho and its ability to lead education innovation.