In 2007 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation granted an additional $11.1 million for the creation of nine more small high schools.

Expeditionary Learning’s research on student engagement and motivation began in 2008 with support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

President Obama and the First LadyIn 2009 President Barack Obama visited Capital City Public Charter School, an Expeditionary Learning school in Washington, DC, and cited it as an “example of how all our schools should be.”

In 2010 Expeditionary Learning expanded its model to include Turnaround Schools, a major focus of federal education policy.

Two research reports published in 2010 highlighted Expeditionary Learning’s impact. In Rochester, NY, students in Expeditionary Learning schools made statistically significant and substantial gains compared to students in non Expeditionary Learning schools. In a larger study of more than 11,000 students in eight states, students attending schools with strong fidelity to the model experienced significantly greater test score gains than non-EL students on math, reading, and language usage tests.

President Obama and the First LadyBy 2010 Fund for Teachers had awarded 328 Expeditionary Learning teachers over $1 million in fellowships.

Ten of Expeditionary Learning’s 47 high schools boasted 100% college acceptance in 2010.

Our Growing Network: 2006–2010

2010: 165 schools in 29 states and DC

2008: 1,388 teachers attended Expeditionary Learning institutes, and 687 attended the National Conference.


In 2001 the American Youth Policy Forum gave Expeditionary Learning a five-star rating for linking community service to academics.

The 2002 National Staff Development Council report What Works in the High School: Results Based Staff Development noted the efficacy of Expeditionary Learning’s professional development with its "heavy emphasis on teacher content development and the rigorous expectation of adult learning and collaboration for all teachers."

In 2003 Expeditionary Learning began intensive professional development on student-engaged assessment, based upon the research of Rick Stiggins. Teachers in Expeditionary Learning schools gained significant expertise in formative and summative assessments as tools to engage students and increase achievement.

EL teachers on fieldworkIn 2003 Catherine Saldutti, president of EduChange, consulted with Expeditionary Learning to improve and expand professional development in science.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation granted Expeditionary Learning $12.6 million in 2003 to help create 14 small public secondary schools throughout the United States.

In 2004 Fund for Teachers selected Expeditionary Learning as a partner to provide competitive fellowships to teachers to improve their teaching practice.

Beginning in 2005, local foundations in Kansas City, Boston, California, and Washington granted Expeditionary Learning over $2 million for regional expansion.

Our Growing Network: 2001–2005

2004: 129 schools in 29 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico

2002: 283 teachers attended Expeditionary Learning institutes and 480 attended the national conference


By 1995–1996 Expeditionary Learning, with the support of New American Schools, moved from an entirely philanthropic support model to one supported largely by fee-for-service.

RAND Corporation logoThe RAND Corporation noted in a 1998 study that Expeditionary Learning was one of only two New American Schools designs to show significantly high levels of implementation in partner schools.

In 1998 The Odyssey School became the first charter school to write Expeditionary Learning into their charter application.

A 1999 partnership with the Public Education and Business Coalition in Denver helped Expeditionary Learning restructure and improve its approach to literacy instruction, a cornerstone of its professional development for teachers.

Research by the National Staff Development Council in 1999 concluded that Expeditionary Learning was the only program of twenty-six studied to meet all of their standards for quality professional development. They also concluded that Expeditionary Learning students’ math and reading scores had increased significantly.

A 2000 study out of Brown University determined that “Expeditionary Learning implementation appear[ed] to be providing a strong academic curriculum that allow[ed] students from typically disadvantaged backgrounds to thrive.”

Beverly Chin, professor of English at the University of Montana and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, worked with Expeditionary Learning in 2000 to improve professional development in writing.

Our Growing Network: 1996–2000

2000: 96 schools in 28 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico

1999: 109 teachers attended Expeditionary Learning institutes, and 304 attended the National Conference


In 1992 the New American Schools Development Corporation awarded $9 million in grant funding to Expeditionary Learning, selecting its model from among 800 applicants.

By 1993 ten demonstration schools in five cities — New York, Boston, Denver, Portland, and Dubuque -- signed on to partner with Expeditionary Learning.

In 1995 the Academy for Educational Development (AED) found marked improvement on standardized tests in nine of Expeditionary Learning's ten demonstration schools. AED also found that teaching through learning expeditions resulted in high-quality work that met district and professional standards, improved student engagement and motivation, and increased parent participation.

Our Growing Network: 1992–1995

1993: Ten demonstration schools in five US cities—New York, Boston, Portland, Denver, and Dubuque


The Outward Bound compass roseIn 1987 the Harvard Outward Bound Project was established at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This project sought to increase the profile of experiential education at Harvard’s school of education while also bringing increased academic rigor to Outward Bound’s work in schools.

In the early 1990s Outward Bound drew on many years of urban and school-based programming and the work of the New York City Outward Bound Center and the Harvard Outward Bound Project to begin an Education and Urban Initiative. This initiative, supported by a three-year, $2.6 million grant from The Wallace Foundation, sought to identify, develop, and replicate effective models of school-based urban programming. It informed what would eventually become the Expeditionary Learning model.

In 1991 the New American Schools Development Corporation issued a call for proposals for comprehensive “break the mold” school reforms to improve achievement in the country’s lowest-performing schools. In response, Outward Bound organized a design team made up of members of the Harvard Outward Bound Project, Harvard University professors, and organizations such as Project Adventure, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Technical Education Research Center (TERC), to write the proposal for Expeditionary Learning.