About us

UP for Learning helps educational institutions across the country fully engage students in their own learning through a research-based model that focuses on deepening youth-adult partnerships in schools. On the cutting edge of the national movement toward student-centered education, UP for Learning provides expert coaching, facilitation and training to youth-adult teams. It offers strategies and tools for building a school community in which learning is engaging for everyone and youth are fully empowered. Based in Vermont, UP for Learning also conducts policy advocacy to elevate student voice in learning and decision-making on a state level.

UP for Learning helps schools fully embrace student voice and youth-adult partnership as central to their school culture.

Fostering student voice—empowering youth to express their opinions and influence their educational experiences so that they feel they have a stake in the outcomes—is one of the most powerful tools schools have to increase learning.

Toshalis and Nakkula, "Motivation, Engagement and Student Voice" Executive Summary, 2012


Our Core Competencies

Step 1

Engaging students in data collection and analysis to drive change

Step 2

Working with schools to create a culture of high expectations

Step 3

Facilitating school and community-wide conversations about youth risk behavors and positive youth development


Step 1

Engaging policymakers and advocating for the elevation of student voice in learning and decision-making

Step 2

Conducting high-impact trainings and providing ongoing coaching

Step 3

Re-structuring school governance to assure student voice in key decisions about learning and teaching

The Story of our Name

Picture a class of 15 eighth-graders from East Charleston Middle School, intent on creating a visual image that captures their commitment to their learning community that year. After brainstorming many possible metaphorical images, they settled on one and dug in. 

East Charleston FVC copy


They were a team of sled dogs, working together to propel themselves forward, capable of great accomplishments given the strengths and unique talents of each team member and their commitment to each other. 


... until one student brought the work to a screeching halt. "But a dog sled team is harnessed with leashes," she objected. "They are held together by force and controlled by the driver." The students' deflated spirits were all too clear to their adult partners, as the group agreed that this was not their aspiration. As they struggled to accept that they needed to start from scratch, a prolonged silence ensued. Then, out of this void a voice said, "But our team doesn't need to be leashed. The team can be linked if each dog holds a rope in its mouth, by choice." Their energy renewed by this shift in the metaphor, the group then developed a visual image of the journey they were committed to pursuing.It was all falling into place.


This story of a breakthrough moment helped shaped our organization's new name: Unleashing the Power of Partnership for Learning. Like the eighth-grade class, UP for Learning believes that young people and teachers thrive in schools when they meld their many talents, interests, and passions, within a spirit of shared responsibility. When students engage in learning that matters, in partnership with teachers, they commit to this community by choice because it feels so rewarding. As the eight-graders demonstrated, when young people are given an opportunity to co-create their learning, they are capable of profound insights and high aspirations. We "just" need to create the venue for this to unfold. That is the work of Unleashing the Power of Partnership for Learning.



UPLogo with words FINAL 5-1-14

There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about. 
-Margaret Wheatley 


Listen UP

  • YATST Student Member

    The student-led faculty meeting was unlike anything I have ever seen in terms of students and teachers holding a discussion about a topic as sensitive as their teaching methods. I heard from a lot of teachers in the “go-around” that they were awestruck about what had just happened.

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  155 Elm Street, Suite 1
Montpelier, VT 05602

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