Our Mission

In today’s schools, students are trained to memorize old answers to familiar questions. Today’s world is dynamic, connected and changing, raising new questions all the time. For students to succeed, they need more than fixed answers — they need the ability to keep growing and adapting to the world they find.

Opportunity Education supports teachers with resources and tools for active, engaged learning, helping students cultivate the mindset, essential habits, and skills to succeed in life and work.

Success isn’t about answering old questions. It’s about seeing opportunities to create value, and having the skills to do so — for yourself, for your community and for the world.

The Impact

Students and teachers from two Quest Forward Learning schools in the U.S. — the Quest Forward High Schools in Santa Rosa, California and Omaha, Nebraska — gathered in focus groups to discuss this unique approach to education. Their words speak for themselves: Quest Forward Learning not only improves their day-to-day school experience but is already having a profound impact on their futures.

HEAR THEIR PERSPECTIVES

A Quest Forward Academy student discusses the advantages of attending her school.
Joe Ricketts

Our Founder, Joe Ricketts

“We teach students how to continue to learn for the rest of their lives.”

— Opportunity Education Founder and CEO, Joe Ricketts

After more than 35 years as the founder and CEO of Ameritrade, one of the largest online brokerage firms globally, Joe Ricketts is dedicated to improving education globally through the programs offered by Opportunity Education Foundation, a private foundation established and funded by him.

Driven by his passion for education and his belief that technology can empower individuals and communities to determine their own futures, Joe Ricketts applies his entrepreneurial expertise and personal financial support to bring engaging, effective, and relevant learning to young persons around the world.

Learn about Joe Ricketts

Hear from the founder, benefactor, and CEO of Opportunity Education, Joe Ricketts, discuss his perspectives on learning and how Opportunity Education's efforts solve education's biggest challenges today.

Leadership

Manuel Mattke, COO and President of Opportunity Education

Manuel Mattke, President and COO  | 

Manuel leads development, marketing and support of Opportunity Education’s programs, resources and tools in the US and internationally. 

Manuel brings over 25 years of experience in technology-driven innovation, software development and change management in complex environments, and a passion for building and leading high-performing teams.

Jolene Zywica, PhD, Senior Director of Learning Strategy at Opportunity Education

Jolene Zywica, PhD, Chief Learning Officer  | 

As the Chief Learning Officer at Opportunity Education, Jolene Zywica, PhD ensures that all resources, tools, and experiences are designed to effectively support teaching and learning and with high integrity to our mission. She leads Opportunity Education’s evaluation program and collaborates with the leadership team to continuously improve our products and services. Jolene has spent over 18 years designing learning programs and tools that engage K-12 students, as well as adult learners, through active learning and effective use of technology. Jolene lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, two sons, and cat. 

James Troupis, Chief of Schools

James Troupis, Chief of Schools

James is the Chief of Schools at Opportunity Education, responsible for leading the development of our growing school network. He brings over 20 years of experience to this role with a background that includes teaching in the New Orleans public schools and training teachers in Los Angeles with Teach for America. James was the founder and principal of Gary Comer College Prep on Chicago’s South Side, for which he won the Ryan Award as the nation’s top principal. He was also the Chief People Officer at Noble Schools in Chicago and co-founder of OpenSeat, an organization that helps schools provide personalized, one-to-one, social-emotional support to students.

Katharine ‘Kat’ Cue-Fuente, Director of Schools Network and Partnerships  |  

Katharine is the Senior Director of Network Growth at Opportunity Education. Her dedication to education and community service ignited in 2005 with the development of the City of Hialeah Charter Academy, focusing on training students for roles in law enforcement and emergency services. Serving on Hialeah’s City Council from 2008 to 2021, she advocated for educational innovation and after-school programs. Passionate about enhancing educational outcomes, Katharine is actively advancing Opportunity Education’s mission by expanding the Quest Forward model and network across the United States.

Rachel Jerez, Director of Professional Learning  |

Rachel is the Director of Professional Learning for Opportunity Education. Before her work in this role, she worked as both a Quest Forward Learning mentor and English curriculum designer. Rachel has over 15 years of experience in the education field, including a Master of Education in Secondary Education, as well as 11 years teaching English in both public and parochial high schools in Northern Virginia. She is committed to supporting teachers in their growth and loves collaborating with educators to increase student engagement. Rachel lives in Springfield, VA with her husband and three children.

Claire Murray, Director of Product Strategy  | 

Claire is Director of Product Strategy at Opportunity Education, where she uses market research and customer feedback to shape the roadmaps for our online teaching and learning tools. She ensures each product solves challenges that schools, teachers, and students face, and collaborates with the engineering team to make product plans a reality. Claire earned her MBA from the University of Colorado in 2020, where she studied strategic business development and organizational change. Claire has helped Opportunity Education shape its products and product adoption services in the US and Tanzania since 2015. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

How Opportunity Education Began

Ameritrade Founder and CEO Joe Ricketts traveled to Tanzania​ for a holiday, and met safari guide Shange Wilson. He learned that Wilson was building a nursery and primary school and decided to visit it. Inspired, he donated $1,400 to Wilson to complete the school’s construction. Later, Mr. Ricketts began to consider other ways to help Wilson’s school and other schools in Tanzania.

In 2005, Opportunity Education Foundation was established​ with Joe Ricketts serving as CEO. Its mission was “to make quality education accessible to children in developing nations so they can improve their standards of living and work towards a brighter future.” Opportunity Education’s first program, the Primary School Program, immediately began accomplishing this mission by providing schools, teachers, and students with financial support, educational materials, and resources. The organization quickly expanded, eventually supporting over a million students across 11 countries, and began connecting over 1,000 schools globally through the Sister School Program

Seeing the profound impact of this work, Mr. Ricketts began to explore what more could be done to break the cycle of poverty, prepare young people better for a radically different job market of the future, and explore the potential of new, portable technology.

Working with a team of learning scientists, teachers, and software professionals, an active, skills-focused approach to learning rooted in the latest learning research began to take shape. Today, dozens of schools globally use Quest Forward Learning to prepare students to create value for themselves, their communities, and the world.

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