Educational Institutions

Open Learning Exchange

aka OLE

Cambridge, MA


Our Vision and Mission

The Open Learning Exchange (OLE) envisions a world in which every person has open and unfettered access to those learning resources they need in order to flourish to the very best of their abilities.

OLE's mission is to ensure learning for all — not only universal basic literacy and numeracy but also vital knowledge and skills concerning health, nutrition, work, community and the peaceful management of our differences. Only then will we be able to eliminate the widespread poverty, injustice, violence and fear that are pervasive today and to provide the foundation that will make it possible for us to create a free, peaceful and democratic world in which each one of us has a voice that is heard and respected.
Our Overarching Goals

To help create positive learning environments were all members of a community, especially their children, are able to:

Empower themselves by making learning resources available to them and by taking their education into their own hands;

Enrich their lives by constantly discovering new knowledge and creating learning resources;

Nurture their body, mind and soul by providing unlimited access to health, academic and cultural information;

Connect meaningfully with others in and outside their classroom and community by forming self-organized groups;

Develop positive values of self-enrichment, contemplation, cooperation and peace that will form the foundation of their society.

Our Motivation

A quality basic education is necessary to improve global outcomes in:


Read local newspapers, magazines, and books
Complete job applications
Tell one's story to the world


Improve agricultural, nutritional, health and environmental practices;

Discover potential areas of personal and professional growth;

Contribute meaningfully at home, school, work and society;

Provide learning tools that can be applied across sectors including in education and health sectors.

Areas of Operation

OLE is directly active or has partners deploying our tools and methodologies in the United States, Mexico, Peru, Nepal, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar.

Ruling Year


Chair and CEO

Dr. Richard R. Rowe

Main Address

One Broadway 14th Floor

Cambridge, MA 02142 USA


Open access to quality basic education in developing countries





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Community Improvement, Capacity Building N.E.C. (S99)

Other Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Grantmaking Foundations N.E.C. (T99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs + Results

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Open Learning Exchange (OLE) has a profound and permanent commitment to do everything we possibly can to radically increase the number of children and youth in the world who enjoy developing their knowledge and skills to their fullest, in ways that increase their personal sense of power, meaning and connections with others. Our commitment is focused on children and youth, especially girls and young women, who are living disrupted lives because of violence, poverty and climate chaos and on the relationships in their lives: their families, communities and nations.

Recognizing that education is the key to breaking the cycle of global poverty––it matters in reducing inequality, fostering gender equality, promoting cross-cultural understanding, and contribute to peace in this world we share––Open Learning Exchange seeks to reframe education for the 21st century and beyond that is personalized, team supported, community-based, and globally connected.

Have you noticed the shifting paradigm? In classrooms, where students often know more than their teachers? When informed patients challenge their doctors? Where those who have we have not heard from, now have a voice in the public discourse?

Information and communication technologies make it possible for power to shift from the few who, in the past, have controlled the supply of goods, services and goodness to the many in need of those things. Consumers today have greater power than ever before.

While this shift is fraught with challenges and disruption, we see universal and unfettered access to information, knowledge and wisdom as the only path for humanity. The vast numbers in the world who are living without hope and meaning already are informed and will no longer be passive. We require a solution that will ensure the internet is a public service––where the global challenges of today are addressed through digital connectivity.

To reframe education and to achieve the UN Sustainable Goal #4, which “ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all", OLE is focused on learning as a way to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to quality education that leads to more productive lives and sustainable communities.

We believe, and hold as OLE's vision, that through our innovative Planet Learning system, which creates a sustainable and dynamic synergy between technology and leadership, we can re-shape education, on a global scale.

To reframe education as personalized, team supported, community-based, and globally connected so to increase a learner's personal sense of power, meaning and connections with others, Open Learning Exchange is focused on children and youth, especially girls and young women, who are living disrupted lives because of violence, poverty and climate chaos as well as on the relationships in their lives: their families, communities and nations.

Our strategies to achieve this are:

• To identify teams of entrepreneurs for education who are exceptionally committed to transforming their country's learning systems. This includes, traditional school settings as well as informal settings such as refugee camps and remote villages.

• To support in country educational entrepreneurs to either partner with an existing organization or to form their own independent organization geared towards seeking solutions to the root problems of education deficits.

• To engage every person in a community (students, teachers, parents, seniors, leaders) as active members of their personalized open learning community. We believe such profound and scaled changes are only possible by building from the ground up, beginning with strong community initiatives and scaling these changes over time by gaining support from the highest levels of the nation.

• To document and formalize our partner relationships so that they in turn will demonstrate and document innovations in learning in their respective communities.

• Upon receipt of reliable evidence of an innovation's success, we advise the public and their governments to scale that innovation as part of the nation's public learning system.

• Finally, we openly share our finds and resources with our partners and with the rest of the world with a focus on scalability and sustainability.

Open Learning Exchange International (OLE) believes we are all learners and leaders and that to foster a sense of agency, meaning and connection, learning should be active/solutions-based, meaningful and collaborative. To reach the 57 million children in developing countries who lack access to quality education and the 30 million of displaced and disrupted children around the world, we work with a strong international team, affiliate partners and institutional organizations, and a highly qualified and internationally connected board of directors.

OLE's International is headed by Richard Rowe, a thought leader in the social sector, a clinical psychologist, formerly Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, Director of Harvard's interfaculty Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and Public Practice and as Chair of Harvard's Center for Studies in Education and Development. He was also the Director of the Test Development and Research Office of the West African Examinations Council and has served as a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education and chaired of the Statewide Advisory Council for the Massachusetts Office for Children.

The OLE team, working within the visionary approach of its CEO encompasses a Chief Technology Officer in charge of software development who works closely with a skilled team at OLE Nepal and a cadre of virtual interns from around the world supervised by our CTO. Completing the home office is a Director of Programs and a Director of Communication.

OLE is growing universal access to quality, meaningful education through our amazing partnerships for new or enhanced learning communities around the world. Our solution is in working in public and private schools and community centers in inner cities, remote villages, and refugee camps. As reading is a foundational skill for all learning, we promote applications in basic literacy and early elementary education as well as other community education needs that serve all ages.

Among our partner organizations are OLE affiliates in Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, and Madagascar, as well as as institutional partners that include UN High Council for Refugees (UNHCR), US Department of State, USAID, International Relief and Development Fund (IRD), and the International Education Association (IEA).

The board of Open Learning Exchange includes international experts in education from the social sector as well as institutions of higher learning as well as legal scholars, philanthropists and consultants.

The progress indicators for Open Learning Exchange are varied, as our work and mission is authentic, visionary and ambitious:

The growth of OLE International in the past decade reflects our progress. Recognized as a "Solver" at the MIT Solve Initiative, OLE's approach and accomplishments consistently garner genuine interest and recognition for its value and potential. The influence and engagement of our growing number of partners, board and sponsors reflect the importance of Open Learning Exchange and our focus on scalability and sustainability to provide universal access to quality, meaningful education for all.

Our Planet Learning System, a demand-driven, affordable, scalable, and networked innovation, employed at low cost in resource-limited settings, integrates a rating system and survey for each learner/leader so, at the community, from the aggregate, can continuously improve the resources it accesses. Compelling data is available from the system itself reflecting active use and engagement.

OLE is continuously innovating and improving the technology we work with. In June 2017 we'll be launching a new, revised version of the Planet Learning system that will not only be powerful enough to hold thousands of open-learning resources, inexpensive enough for use any place in the world and small enough to fit in your pocket, but too its functionality and connectivity will be faster and the variety of content which it can manage will be more robust.

Finally, our best indicator are the stories shared by our affiliates and in country partners:

We have stories upon stories that share: Imagine seeing 8-year old Kofi, as we have, running to his Ghanaian village school an hour early to have more time reading. Imagine seeing, as we have, Tiger Teams of adolescent, Syrian-refugee girls before an audience of parents and friends, performing their play, debating the benefits of recycling, and reading their poetry. These experiences of personalized learning, along with hundreds more like them, are energizing OLE to expand our innovative approach to learning, making it available to as many people in as many places as possible.

Since Open Learning Exchange was founded in 2007, we have identified more than 20 partners/educational entrepreneurs who we are currently working with in Asia, Africa and Latin America and who have taken the Planet Learning system intro traditional school settings as well as refugee camps and remote villages.

In OLE Nepal alone 42,000 young people are enjoying developing their knowledge and skills to their fullest, in ways that increase their personal sense of power, meaning and connections with others. Students from 222 schools are benefitting from personalized, solutions-based learning. 700 teachers have been trained as coaches.

OLE Ghana has worked from the ground up, beginning with a strong community base and scaled, by gaining support at the highest levels of government to have the Planet Learning reach every district in the country. Currently, we are working with a team Madagascar to also work with a nation-based approach.

At our 10-year mark, Open Learning Exchange is developing the next iteration of our technology to reach our strategic goal of openly sharing our finds and resources with our partners and with the rest of the world with a focus on scalability and sustainability.

External Reviews


Open Learning Exchange

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?