America Succeeds Updates

Looking Back: A Decade of Growth and Commitment

“As I reflect on problems I care about from civil society, the climate, opportunity for those left behind, part of the answer always comes back to education- it is the great fuel that can lift.”

-Zachary Neumeyer, Co-founder of America Succeeds


As we embrace a new decade at America Succeeds, it only feels fitting to reflect on some of the most impactful moments that have shaped our trajectory. While many things have changed in the education policy and advocacy sphere since 2014, the transformative power of quality education has remained unchanged. Education is the catalyst that empowers individuals to become agents of positive change and a right that we will never stop fighting for. 

We invite you to join us in taking a stroll down memory lane as we explore the political contexts, strategy shifts, and unwavering vision that has landed us where we are today. 

Setting The Stage 

In the landscape of American education, 2008 to 2014 marked a significant era of student-centered reform efforts, spurred by the Obama-era push for change. Initiatives such as Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards sparked new conversations about what we expect from public education, promising to raise standards and improve outcomes for students nationwide. This era also saw the rise of influential advocacy groups like ConnCAN and Colorado Succeeds at the state level, along with national organizations like 50CAN and StudentsFirst, that mobilized grassroots support and raised awareness – and pressure – necessary for change.

As these efforts around standards and student outcomes gained momentum, they also ignited a fierce political battleground. By 2014, the tide had begun to turn as a growing chorus of opposition emerged. Discontent centered on issues like teacher evaluations, standardized testing (particularly within the framework of Common Core), and school choice, splintering the once bipartisan support for education reform. This new phase of political discord made further progress increasingly challenging at the state level. As the landscape shifted, advocacy groups found themselves grappling with evolving political dynamics and questioning the capabilities of their strategies. 

America Succeeds Emerges

After eight years of success with Colorado Succeeds serving as a business voice for education in the state, co-founders, Tim Taylor, Zack Neumeyer, and Tony Lewis recognized the demand to extend their work nationally. In 2014, Tim and Zack, with the support and guidance of Tony and the Donell-Kay Foundation, launched America Succeeds, with a clear vision: to ensure that every student, regardless of background or circumstance, has access to an excellent education. Recognizing the vital intersection between business and education, we set out to establish a platform that would serve as a business voice for education. Our work was guided by five core principles, which are critical to the success of any business and are equally important for improving our education system:

    1. Customer-focused – Putting students first in all policies and practices.
    2. Accountability – Assigning direct responsibility for educational outcomes throughout the system.
    3. Transparency – Enabling public access to clear and detailed financial and performance data.
    4. Return on Investment – Effectively investing limited resources to achieve desired student outcomes.
    5. Choice & Innovation – Empowering parents and students to choose – and educators to create – the best learning environment.


From our humble beginnings, our journey has been marked by collaboration. We cultivated a network of state-based affiliates, united by America Succeeds’ core principles, providing tailored support in strategy, operations, governance, policy, and communications. By 2019, our network expanded to seven states, advocating for more than 5.34 million K-12 students and engaging 724 business organizations in improving public education. We also initiated the Age of Agility national tour, engaging over 1,200 business leaders, policymakers, and educators in solutions-focused discussions about the future of work. These conversations shed light on the challenges facing education and sparked innovative ideas and collaborations aimed at driving meaningful change.

Evolution in Strategy

In the wake of the shifting political contexts and challenges pressing state-level advocacy efforts, our state partners’ needs evolved and diversified greatly. America Succeeds remained committed to providing support across its network, while also recognizing novel opportunities to align the education system with our vision. 

Two significant strategy shifts took place to enhance America Succeeds’ network and deepen national impact. Firstly, we expanded the inclusivity of our state partner network, transitioning from a paid “Affiliates” model to a more comprehensive structure. While working with existing partners, we also strengthened relationships with advocacy organizations actively involving business leaders in their initiatives. Secondly, we adopted a national, unified policy agenda, departing from previous individualized approaches. This agenda prioritized innovative solutions, leveraging the influence of business leaders to advance equity, access, and opportunity for all students. These shifts enabled America Succeeds to extend the reach of business-led education advocacy, fostering momentum and engagement around our two national initiatives. 

Through our Equity in Education initiative, we crafted a policy agenda to enhance opportunities for all students, especially those from underserved communities, by prioritizing initiatives to increase diversity in the teaching profession and reform funding systems to better meet student needs. We also launched our Durable Skills initiative, focused on advancing the policies, practices, and tools that ensure all learners develop Durable Skills as a foundational part of their education pathway. After three years of research, collaboration, and promotion, our Durable Skills Advantage Framework is ready to use for a more holistic approach to developing every student’s unique potential and improving pathways into economically mobile careers. 

An Unwavering Vision

The past ten years have brought about challenges, opportunities, and lessons. But as we reflect on all three, two things have remained unchanged – our vision of ensuring every student has access to quality education, and our focus on engaging business leaders in shaping the talent pipeline. By fostering partnerships with business leaders, we’ve been able to advocate for innovative solutions, drive systemic change, and amplify efforts aimed at maximizing equity, access, and opportunity for all students. 

Here’s to another decade of making a difference and having the best time doing it. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on some of the partnerships that have been integral to our journey. 

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