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AERDF Honored as one of Fast Company’s 2024 World Changing Ideas


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From a solution to repurpose cold plasma to treat seeds to 3D printed living seawalls, the eighth annual awards honor new and inspiring solutions to the most daunting challenges of today. 


OAKLAND, Calif., May 14, 2024 — Fast Company announced and recognized The Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF), the first nonprofit, Advanced Inclusive Research and Development (R&D) organization focused on scientific discovery and invention in PreK-12 education, as one of this year’s World Changing Ideas. From some of the world’s most creative minds and pioneering organizations seeking to disrupt the status quo, the solutions cover everything from renewable energy storage and waste in the fashion industry to a building made entirely from recycled concrete and a fridge that’s solar-powered and designed to run off the grid.  


Fast Company honored AERDF’s cutting-edge approach to conducting education R&D. AERDF is redefining education research and innovation while propelling the design of scalable, breakthrough education solutions that address long-standing PreK-12 teaching and learning challenges. Inspired by the US federal government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) initiatives that already exist in defense, health, and energy, AERDF grounds its approach in Advanced R&D and the science of learning. Through focused, shorter cycles of innovation with clear, ambitious goals, AERDF brings together learners, educators, researchers, developers, and others from the beginning and throughout this process to find solutions to pressing education challenges. This approach provides the opportunity for educators, learners, and caregivers who are most impacted day to day in and outside of classrooms to co-create the best solutions to support students. 


This year’s World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 50 winners, 127 finalists, and 172 honorable mentions—with health, education, energy, and AI among the most popular categories. A panel of Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners from a pool of more than 1,300 entries across climate, social justice, wellness, politics, technology, corporate social responsibility, and more. Several new categories were added this year, including beauty and fashion, health products, health services, materials, and science and technology. The 2024 awards feature entries from across the globe, including the Republic of Korea, Brazil, and Madagascar.


“We are deeply invested in developing solutions for and with Black and Latino learners and learners from households experiencing poverty, populations that have so often been underserved by our education systems,” says Auditi Chakravarty, Chief Executive Officer of AERDF. “This fuels our drive to illuminate and share innovative PreK-12 solutions, encompassing new insights, technologies, programs, and products designed to transform each learner’s learning trajectory. We are appreciative of Fast Company for recognizing our efforts and honored to be part of a global community of notable organizations dedicated to creating positive, multigenerational change.”


“I was struck this year by the global sweep of the honorees,” says Fast Company Editor-in-Chief Brendan Vaughan. “It’s endlessly inspiring to see how the world is coming together to devise inventive solutions to our most challenging problems. We need ideas from everywhere, and this year’s World Changing Ideas Awards are an extraordinary encapsulation of the innovation and creativity that is so abundant around the globe.”


ABOUT AERDF: Advanced Education Research & Development Fund (AERDF, sounds like air-diff) is a national nonprofit organization launched in 2021 that advances scientific discovery & inventions that further learners’ brilliance and transform their PreK-12 futures. AERDF’s ambitious three-to-five-year initiatives (known as programs), funded with budgets up to $25 million, address major teaching and learning challenges and opportunities the public and private sector have historically ignored for Black and Latino learners and learners experiencing poverty in the United States.

AERDF programs build on existing community-driven evidence and expertise, as well as learning sciences, to translate fundamental insights into usable knowledge, useful practices, equitable approaches and transformative tools for education practitioners and students.

Since AERDF’s launch, its programs – currently focused on math, formative assessment, and reading – have engaged more than 20,000 students.

Learn more about AERDF and our programs at 


ABOUT THE WORLD CHANGING IDEAS AWARDS: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and bold concepts that make the world better. Judges choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to work on solving the problems that affect us all.


ABOUT FAST COMPANY: Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies, and thinkers on the future of business. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication Inc., and can be found online at


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