Know More Care More Do More

2019-2020 Annual Report

A Message from Our Co-Founders

Greetings, World Savvy Community,

The past year has been one of the most disruptive and challenging in our history – as we confront multiple pandemics in every corner of the world, from health crises, to racial inequity, to climate change.

It is reminiscent of our founding year, when, immediately post 9/11, the world was on the brink of war, again, and our country was grappling with the changing demographics that would soon shift the composition of communities across the US. At the time, we were motivated by a simple truth: the more we understand, about the world and each other, the better prepared we are to move positive change forward, together. In the absence of this, misunderstanding, fear, and conflict are inevitable. Because the challenges we face, wherever we live, are not confined by borders – they are interconnected and interdependent – whether that is health, the environment, economic security, peace and conflict resolution, or so many other complex issues.

In the 18 years since our founding, as co-founders and friends, we have answered this call for change in similar ways, from opposite sides of the world. One of us from the perspective of systems change in K-12 education in the United States, and the other, through leadership of an innovative and renowned network of schools in Bangladesh.

As we contemplate the pandemics our country and globe are impacted by so acutely, we’ve been doubling down at World Savvy on supporting an education system that centers youth agency, empowers diverse young leaders to become impactful changemakers, and re-imagines K-12 teaching and learning to build the competencies for engaged citizenship – locally and globally.

We are living in an extraordinary moment in history. We’re invigorated to be in a position to advance the work that we believe is needed more than ever as we move forward: greater inclusion, more empathy and collaboration across differences, and more informed and engaged citizenship.

As co-founders of this movement, this has been constant for 18 years: We continue to believe that this change fundamentally begins with education.

And our communities have met this moment, and used the disruption as an opportunity for change; to recommit to fostering greater empathy, compassion, critical and creative thinking, and a commitment to working together, across differences, to solve the most pressing problems before us. As partner Principal Margo Frachek, from Cokley MS in Norwood, MA put it: “We’re in this moment in time where you can be on the right side of history, or you can sit on the sidelines and watch it all happen to you.”

Since our founding in 2002, World Savvy has reached nearly 750,000 students and more than 6,000 teachers across 38 US states and 28 countries. Our most recent impact report showed that more than 85% of students are significantly enhancing their global competence – their knowledge of their communities and the world, their motivation to be civically engaged, and their skills and capacity to take action.

As we look ahead, we have a renewed sense of urgency. We are more committed than ever to our bold 2030 Vision of engaging 10,000 schools in diverse geographies across the U.S., representing approximately 10% of schools and reaching an estimated 5 million students.

This Annual Report provides not only a look back on the extraordinary strides we’ve made in the last year to build this movement, but also the incredible resiliency of our community – students, educators, school leaders, and our own team. Thank you for all that you have done, through your support over the years, to ensure that World Savvy schools across the country can leverage this time of disruption as a call to action, to create an education system grounded in the skills and dispositions young people need to navigate our complex, diverse, and interconnected world.

With deep appreciation,
Dana Mortenson – Co-Founder & CEO
Madiha Murshed – Co-Founder & Managing Director, Scholastica


“It’s abundantly clear that we need a generation of leaders and changemakers who know more, care more and do more to work collaboratively to address issues that impact their communities and the world.”

– Dana Mortenson, Co-Founder & CEO, World Savvy

Our Mission

World Savvy educates and engages youth to learn, work, and thrive as responsible global citizens.

Our Vision

World Savvy envisions a K-12 education system that prepares all students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for success and active engagement in the global community.

Our Approach

World Savvy is a national nonprofit educating and preparing youth with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for success and active engagement in the global community. World Savvy’s approach to learning is based on the belief that students learn best when they are engaged in relevant and important issues that impact their communities and the world. We believe that students’ lived experiences and perspectives are assets that can be leveraged in learning every day.

As our country becomes more diverse, the global economy becomes more interconnected, and our collective challenges become increasingly complex and borderless, a new kind of teaching and learning is required to prepare the next generation.

That’s why we’re empowering educators to make school inclusive, relevant, and engaging for all students, inspiring them to learn, work, and thrive as responsible global citizens. As a result of World Savvy’s partnership in schools, students know more about themselves, their communities, and the world, care more about issues and their impacts on society, and do more to create positive change through teamwork and collaboration.


Students Reached


Educators Reached


States Reached


Countries Reached

What is Global Competence?

Reveal Answer

World Savvy defines global competence as the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors necessary to navigate and succeed in today’s interconnected world. Globally competent individuals:

  • Understand globally significant issues
  • Practice empathy
  • Appreciate cultural differences
  • Understand and consider multiple perspectives
  • Use critical and comparative thinking
  • Problem solve collaboratively
  • Are life-long learners

Back to Question


“I felt like the World Savvy projects prepared them for the pandemic. I felt like they knew what was being asked of them…I felt like the connections for my 7th graders, especially the timing, made them quickly apply some of the competencies.”

– Sue, Educator, Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

What We Do

In increasingly diverse, interconnected, and complex communities, students need global competence to be prepared for learning, work, and life. World Savvy is building the capacity of the next generation to adapt and thrive in a world of change.

We accomplish this critical work through partnerships with:

Our Commitment to Equity

For 18 years, World Savvy has worked to integrate and elevate global competence into K-12 education so that every child can develop the skills, attitudes and dispositions necessary to thrive in a more diverse and interconnected world. Our commitment to this work has been fueled by our unwavering belief that there is strength in diversity, and that a peaceful, just and sustainable path forward for the world depends upon all individuals – particularly those who have been historically marginalized – having a strong and powerful voice in how we build our collective future.

Advancing this mission every day, year after year, requires work. Individual and collective work to build empathy, cross-cultural communication and collaboration skills, appreciation and respect for multiple perspectives and differences, and critical thinking that demands that we interrogate long standing assumptions and entrenched beliefs; both in ourselves, and reflected by and enshrined in the systems all around us. To confront how systemic injustice and white supremacy have shaped institutions, blocked progress and often warped our understanding of the most consequential issues impacting our communities and our country.

World Savvy has worked since our founding to deeply embed equity into our approach, to ensure our organizational values are reflected in how we show up for one another, for our community, and in our work. This is a learning journey; we have not always succeeded in meeting our own expectations. We have stumbled, made mistakes, and learned. We also know this work is both critical and aspirational. Equity work is not a checklist to be completed, but a mindset and orientation that shifts how we do everything we do.

Toward that end, we’ve taken numerous steps in the last year to ensure that, as we grow, racial equity remains central to everything we do. Over the last several months we have been, and into the future, we will continue to:

  • Engage in honest and dynamic discourse on diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • Rigorously examine our practices, learn to recognize how our organization perpetuates inequitable norms, and establish decision-making and operational expectations that firmly act in opposition to inequity;
  • Identify and support partners in the communities where we work, and where systemic racism has had extraordinarily adverse impacts, and center their voices in our decision making;
  • Cultivate an inclusive working environment in which every employee feels comfortable expressing their full identity and are supported by leadership.

In early 2021, we will share our Equity Statement and our specific commitments and anti-racist practices moving forward. These will be developed in cooperation with our full team, Board and community stakeholders, and will live on a new section of our website that will allow our partners and the communities we serve to hold us accountable, with a transparent view into our goals to advance racial equity, and progress made against those goals. We expect and hope that all of our stakeholders will encourage, challenge, advise, and join us on this journey to advance this critical work.

Wild Fire

“We’re in this moment in time where you can be on the right side of history, or you can sit on the sidelines and watch it all happen to you.”

– Margo Fraczek, Principal, Coakley Middle School, Norwood, MA

This Year

It will come as no surprise that this past year was radically different from any other in World Savvy’s history. For much of the year we were able to conduct in person programming and partnership work – collaborating with schools and districts across the Bay Area, Minnesota, and the New York Tristate area, and beyond – exciting highlights of which you’ll see throughout this report.


Students Reached


Educators Reached


States Reached


Countries Reached

Core Regions
States Reached

Then, in March, COVID-19 hit and sent all of our partner schools and educators on a new, challenging journey to master virtual teaching and learning – almost overnight. We heard from World Savvy educators that, while our model helped prepare them and their students to lean into the ambiguity and complexity of these new challenges, they also desired additional resources to help their students navigate new learning models.

Within weeks, World Savvy responded. We developed new webinars, online resources, and coaching sessions for educators, as well as new virtual collaboration tools for students. We helped schools conduct remote Festivals, enabling students to share their Knowledge-to-Action projects with audiences in an online space for feedback and encouragement. And we committed to bringing at least 75% of our program capabilities online by the start of the 2020-21 school year – a goal we exceeded by July 1st. Then we just kept going, and have now brought nearly 100% of our program online.


of Programming Online


New Online Workshops


New Micro-credentials

In the midst of unforeseen disruption to traditional classroom teaching and learning, World Savvy continued to support schools, educators, and students across the country in innovative ways, working together to reimagine education for a more globally connected world – creating a generation of changemakers who know more, care more, and do more, right now.

Our Featured Partners

Through project-based learning, World Savvy educators prepare students to tackle real-world, complex challenges. As a result, World Savvy students become thoughtful, collaborative changemakers who know more, care more, and do more to create positive change in their communities and the world.

Byram Hills High School

Since 2018, World Savvy has partnered with Byram Hills High School to design and conduct a situation assessment of their Global Scholars Program. This past school year, one of the program’s student teams came up with project to help their neighboring community of Mount Kisco and its significantly large immigrant population be counted for the 2020 U.S. Census. Students, Lindsey, Max, Dylan, Andrew, and Nick worked with local organizations to create a three-minute public service announcement video in Spanish (with English subtitles) urging everyone to respond. The video is shown on a continuous loop at Neighbors Link, the Mount Kisco-based organization that provides services and education for the immigrant community.

Somali Community Resettlement Services

World Savvy wrapped up our first year working with youth in Rochester and Faribault schools in Southeast Minnesota. In partnership Somali Community Resettle Services, we created the United Community for Inclusive Education, aimed at bringing together student and educator cohorts to create supportive and inclusive communities and schools for Somali youth. Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, our program team worked with students through our Knowledge-to-Action process and tackled issues that are affecting their community – like increasing access for Somali girls in sports. Watch the video above to learn more about this initiative and some of the issues students tackled!

youth project

“Seeing the excitement of my students and seeing how much they’ve grown as learners, at an adolescent age, was powerful. They learned a lot about themselves, they learned how to work with others, and coming up with solutions that were challenging.”

– Carrie, Educator, Clara Barton Open School, Minneapolis, MN

Our Impact on Educators

Educators increased their capacity to engage students in learning that deepens their understanding of the world, builds critical and creative thinking skills, and provides exposure to multiple perspectives.
Educators increased their capacity to provide opportunities to research global and local challenges and potential solutions, facilitate action-focused learning.
Educators increased their capacity to cultivate a learning environment where students can be curious, challenge assumptions, and seek multiple perspectives.
Educators increased their capacity to explore and nurture connections across identities.

Our Impact on Students


of students were more open to new ways of thinking.


of students became more knowledgeable of the complexities and interdependence of world events and issues.


of students used research to adapt a solution.


of students learned how to create a plan to make change on a global issue.

Letter from our Bay Area Executive Director

At the start of 2020, I was furiously preparing to become a mom. I had my never ending to-do list, and I was mentally readying myself for sleepless nights and juggling all the demands of a newborn. When I left World Savvy for maternity leave at the start of February, I knew that life would never be the same. But, like each of you, I never would have imagined what was around the corner.

So much of what is wrong right now – our climate and health crisis, and the struggle for racial equity – is a result of years of neglect, inaction, and failure to address the deep roots of these issues. In the Bay Area, we’ve felt all of these challenges acutely. It’s been particularly painful over the past few months, as once again, wildfires ravaged our state, burning more than 4 million acres of beautiful land. There is no doubt that these times are unsettling, and that we can easily feel overwhelmed by all we’re facing. But, I do believe that there is hope and opportunity in uncertainty and tragedy. Which is precisely why I was so eager to return to World Savvy after my maternity leave, and why I am so proud to be a leader in this work.

Over the past 6 months, we’ve been laser focused on what it means to build an education system that centers youth agency, empowers diverse young leaders to become impactful changemakers, and re-imagines teaching and learning in a way that mainstreams building the competencies for engaged citizenship – locally and globally. As a result, we are proud to highlight that we’ve brought nearly all of our program delivery online, which means that even with all of this uncertainty in our world we can serve the heartbeat of our organization – our community of educators and students.

Despite the tumultuous end to the school year in 2019-20, in the Bay Area we were able to provide programming to over 1,125 students and 15 educators. Over the past year, Bay Area educators supported their students through Knowledge-to-Action projects that were showcased at a virtual gathering this Spring. The projects were deeply connected to relevant and local issues ranging from LGBTQ rights, to sex trafficking in Oakland, to recycling and sustainability in Bay Area schools. One group of four Oakland based students focused on developing solutions for how to boost Oakland student’s self-esteem in order to encourage them to continue with their schooling throughout highschool. Impressive to say the least. In addition, World Savvy’s work was featured in ABC7 News and World Savvy student Delara Shadfar was featured in the Bay Area Reporter. We are also excited to announce that SFUSD has renewed their district-wide commitment, and we’ll be working in the coming years across a network of middle schools to implement new models for building global citizenship and problem solving through our Knowledge-to-Action model. We have a lot to celebrate and are deeply grateful to you for standing by us during these times.

While so much of 2020 doesn’t feel right, everyday I am inspired by the resiliency I see around me. To the individuals who are taking cooperative action and standing up to the injustices in our country, to the essential workers who exhibit empathy and humility every day by doing all they can to save the lives of COVID-19 patients, to the firefighters and incarcerated who are problem solving to protect our beloved state of California, to the educators who are showing up for their students and embracing ambiguity, and to the students who are leaning into the complexity of a new way of learning – you are all engaging in your community as global citizens. Cooperative action, empathy, humility, problem solving, comfort with ambiguity and complexity are skills, behaviors, and attitudes that exhibit global competence.

Now more than ever, World Savvy remains focused on supporting our community of educators and students. I am so proud of our work in the Bay Area during this time of significant change and challenge. And, I am so looking forward to leading the Bay Area team through the next fiscal year and continuing to build on our momentum!

Thank you for all you’ve done over the course of the past year to show up and support World Savvy. We are so incredibly grateful.

Be well,
Eliza Skinner O’Meara

Students posing with their project

“Sometimes in a school setting, the adults are used to having to be the expert. With programs in World Savvy or when we give students opportunities to do projects that are driven from their interest, they actually can turn around and become experts for us and I think it’s important for us to remember that.”

– Liz Fierst, former Principal, Herbert Hoover Middle School, San Francisco, CA

Letter from our National Development and Communications Manager

Like so many communities across the US, Minnesota has experienced dramatic challenges, change, and loss over the last year. Amidst an outpouring of pain catalyzed by the killing of George Floyd, we’ve been challenged to confront our community’s deep legacy of structural racism – a challenge made all the more urgent as we also see the disparate impacts of the COVID crisis on our Black and Brown neighbors. We’ve seen disheartening divisions in some of our communities, but also inspiring solidarity and hope, as people have come together to support each other – often led by young people who exemplify that they don’t just have potential for future leadership, but are already changemakers in our communities right now.

This is why we believe at World Savvy that education is key to creating lasting change in our communities and preparing everyone to live in a more diverse, ever-changing world. This is more true than ever here in Minnesota, where our communities are changing even more rapidly than the country as a whole. Minnesota’s foreign-born population is increasing faster than the national average, tripling since 1990, while nationally it has only doubled. Across the state – not just in our urban centers – our communities are getting more diverse, as minority populations in places such as Willmar, Rochester, and Faribault continue to grow even faster than in the rest of the state. And this growing diversity makes our communities more dynamic, creative, and productive – but gaps in equity in Minnesota persist, especially for immigrant and multilingual students and communities.

This year, across Minnesota, more than 3,000 World Savvy students explored issues important to them and their communities, and made plans to create real change. In Southeast Minnesota, in collaboration with Somali Community Resettlement Services, we continued to work with students in Rochester and Faribault through our Student Action Labs. Using design thinking, teams identified issues important to them, researched them deeply, and iterated innovative solutions. One team identified barriers to participation in sports for female Somali students as their issue, and made creative plans to advocate for more equitable participation. Students at Orono Schools identified issues of local and global significance and were able to host a “Virtual School Festival,” bringing together students, educators, community members, and World Savvy supporters to judge student Knowledge-to-Action projects. And students at FAIR School and Wellstone International High School in Minneapolis collaborated across cultural identities to explore their experiences as Black students in Minneapolis from different backgrounds – and share what these experiences mean for racial equity work in our community moving forward.

We could not have done this work without you, and we are excited to work even more deeply with schools and districts across Minnesota in the year to come. It has been such a pleasure working so closely with our network of supporters and donors here in Minnesota over the last year; so many of you stepped up in the Spring to redirect our efforts social distancing cancelled our annual World of Good fundraising event, and together we completed a successful Responsive Fund Campaign that raised nearly twice our highest event revenue, allowing us to successfully pivot to meet the needs of educators and students in the midst of COVID-19 disruptions.

Thank you, truly, for all you do to support World Savvy.

Whitney Larson

Students working together

“When I spoke with a [refugee] student about life back home and the things that she went through…I also shared some things my family went through that [were] very similar to her situation. It made things less awkward and more familiar in a way.”

– FAIR School Student, from Integration work with Wellstone International High School, Minneapolis, MN

Our Donors and Partners

We could not do our work without the support of many incredible donors who believe in our mission and believe in us. We are deeply grateful for their generous support, and educating the next generation of changemakers and global citizens!

See our list of donors
See our list of partners

Our Vision 2030:

By 2030, World Savvy’s goal is to engage a network of 10,000 middle and high schools in diverse geographies across the US, representing 10% of the public schools across the country, and reaching an estimated 5 million students.

Our Financials

Thanks to generous donors and partnership work, World Savvy continues to be on solid financial footing, enabling us to invest in growth and capacity-building toward our Vision 2030.

Statement of Financial Position


Total Checking/Savings $751,347
Total Accounts & Pledges Receivable $919,629
Total Other Current Assets $45,030
Intangible Assets/Net $43,775



TOTAL ASSETS: $1,759,781



Total Accounts Payable & Accrued Expense $42,196
Total Accounts & Pledges Receivable $919,629
Deferred Revenue $1,250
Line of Credit $250,000



Net Assets




Statement of Activity

Support & Revenue









PAYROLL $1,163,249


GENERAL & ADMIN $250,324

TRAVEL $68,694


Allocation of Expenses FY20

5-Year Net Assets

*amount in United States Dollar

Chart by Visualizer

Our Team

World Savvy thrives based on the efforts of our talented staff, who are passionate about education and believe in the critical importance of developing global citizenship, knowledge and skills.

Check out our team!

Our Board

World Savvy is guided by various Boards who help to shape the vision, programming, and impact of our work. These Boards are comprised of a diverse group of individuals with expertise and experience across sectors who share a common belief about the urgency of World Savvy’s mission and work.

Check out our board!

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