Decades of Dedication

Late 1980s

“All of us who make motion pictures are teachers -- teachers with very loud voices -- but we will never be able to match the power of the teacher who whispers in a student's ear.”

— George Lucas

Propelled by his own disappointing experiences at school, George Lucas begins exploring ways to apply his expertise and resources to improving education. With input from leaders in education, he decides to focus his efforts on helping people understand and improve the learning process.


The George Lucas Educational Foundation opens its doors in 1991 and begins exploring ways of using emerging interactive technology to enhance learning.

While the technology is exciting, it becomes clear that schools are unable to easily integrate new technology and, more importantly, that there is a fundamental lack of information available about best practices in learning and teaching.

The Foundation, co-founded by George Lucas and Steve Arnold, decides to document and disseminate the best examples of what works in schools and to focus its storytelling on the medium that George Lucas knows best: film.

Lucas and Arnold believe that when the public “sees” how successful classrooms function, through documentary films and other media, there will be greater consensus on the changes needed in our schools.

The Foundation produces a documentary called Learn & Live about five leading schools using project-based learning, technology, and community partnerships to strengthen learning. Hosted by Robin Williams, the film ultimately airs on dozens of PBS stations around the country.

The Foundation distributes 100,000 kits that pair the film with a companion book to states, districts, and education conferences.


As the Foundation continues telling stories about schools that work, core strategies begin to consistently emerge: project-based learning, integrated studies, social and emotional learning, comprehensive assessment, teacher and leader development, integrated technology, and community engagement.

These strategies, and the dedicated educators behind them, empower students to think critically, analyze information, solve problems creatively, collaborate effectively, and communicate with impact.


Edutopia magazine debuts, expanding the Foundation's reach to those eager to improve education. The Foundation's semiannual Edutopia newsletter is transformed into a glossy magazine, published six times a year, showcasing inspiring, straightforward success stories in K-12 education, with each issue reaching approximately 260,000 readers.

Education Nation written by Milton Chen, senior fellow and executive director emeritus of the Foundation, presents a compelling case for improving education. It is illuminated by practical examples from schools, teachers, and community leaders.


The Foundation shifts its primary focus to the Internet, with and its social media presence seeing rapid audience growth. By transitioning magazine and video content online and amplifying its social network presence, Edutopia engages millions, including teachers, administrators, and parents.

The Foundation launches Lucas Education Research, an initiative partnering with educational researchers to examine rigorous project-based learning across grades K-12.


In 2021, Lucas Education Research, in partnership with five universities, unveils four major research studies that validate project-based learning as an effective teaching strategy that boosts the engagement and learning achievement of all students, especially historically underserved students

In 2023, the Foundation transitions from Lucas Education Research to initiate Lucas Learning, which collaborates with partners to create authentic learning simulations for schools, grounded in the proven design principles of project-based learning.


As we move forward, we remain dedicated to highlighting innovative, replicable, and evidence-based programs and practices that prepare students to thrive in school and beyond.

Photo Credits: Bart Nagel (George Lucas with children), Tina Mills (George Lucas with three teenagers).