Joel Kaplan is the guy who is way too intense and passionate for his own good but will use that to solve the problems in education and one day change the world.
Joel graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Philosophy from Temple University. As Director at Indigo, Joel is in charge of developing strategic partnerships, scaling our business development opportunities and leading all of the implementations in all of Indigo’s high schools and universities from start to finish. At this point, Joel has worked with over 40 schools, ran over 200 workshops and reached over 10,000 students.
Outside of the world of Indigo, Joel is also a Venture For America Fellow, a program that takes college entrepreneurs and places them in startup companies all across the country. He is also an Emerging City Champions Fellow, an annual program where 20 civic innovators from across the nation are selected and given $5,000 to implement a project to transform their cities. For his project, Joel founded the Young Knights Project - an organization that leverages the ideas of passionate high school students to build better communities. Every year, they select 5 students who have innovative and crazy ideas for projects that can help the city of Boulder, Colorado and give them each $1,000 to go out and make them happen.
When he’s not neck-deep in all things Indigo, Joel’s passions include social entrepreneurship, performing improv comedy and weightlifting.
The way that we recognize success in the current education system is limited and needs revision. Schools are giving their undivided attention to increasing standardized test scores and academic performance. They define success by academic metrics, which at the end of the day, are just numbers. The problem is that they only represent a fraction of a student’s true potential. This restricted view on success that is held by the current education system is distracting schools from what really matters: personal fulfillment, happiness, and helping students to discover their unique strengths and ultimately use them to find their own unique success. If we are able to flip the current paradigm away from an infatuation with high test scores and academic performance towards one which focuses on the strengths and passions possessed by each unique student, not only will we start achieving success in a much more holistic sense but we will actually start achieving the type of success that the current system dreams of! If the education system can align itself with the strengths and passions possessed by students, not only will students find the personal achievement, happiness, and alignment that they seek but scores will actually go up and academic performance will improve!
The problem is that this is only possible by taking a step back. We must forget about these scores for a while and it is not going to be easy. We cannot let the end goal of academic success blind us of the steps we must take to actually get there. We must spend time focusing on increasing self-awareness in schools and providing a holistic education that helps students identify and apply their strengths and passions. Once that is accomplished, we will be setting ourselves up for a path of infinite success.
My disappointment with the current education system and my desire to bring forward a more holistic approach to education is why I am here. Imagine a world where everyone is doing what they love to do and they find immense personal fulfillment by doing so… a world where you do something that truly aligns with your natural talents and abilities… and get paid to do it! A world that motivates you to do what you are doing and become amazing at it. That world is not fully here yet but we are doing everything we can to get there. As a Director at Indigo Project, I will make it my life’s mission to turn that world that I dream of into a reality.