As president of education at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Jim Shelton has made a career of working on the cusp of education and technology.
The philanthropic organization that pulls together world-class engineering, grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work, is named for its founders, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician and former teacher, and her husband, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Shelton speaks at Franklin & Marshall College Nov. 28 on the topic, “The Idea of Student ‘Success’ is Tired and Broken. Let’s Fix it.” He will make the case that the definition of “success” has limited students and educators in what they can achieve.
The Mehlman Talent Initiative at F&M identifies teaching and mentoring techniques that help students who prevailed over challenging life circumstances to thrive beyond college.
According to USA Today, when Shelton was appointed in 2016 to the two-year-old organization’s post, he told Chan and Zuckerberg on Facebook Live, “This work is personal and passionate for me.”
Shelton, who has a computer science degree from Morehouse College and master’s degrees in business administration and education from Stanford University, began his career as program director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He managed billion-dollar portfolios in nonprofit investments targeting increased high school and college graduation rates.
From 2013 to 2014, Shelton served as deputy secretary of education under President Barack Obama’s administration, where he oversaw management, policy and program functions, including the Office of Innovation and Improvement.
In 2015, Shelton joined as president and chief impact officer at 2U Inc., an education company that sells technology to public and nonprofit colleges that want to offer online degrees.
Shelton’s career also includes co-founder of LearnNow, a school management company that was acquired by Edison Schools.
Zuckerberg and Chan have pledged to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares, one of the largest philanthropic gifts in history, to tackle some of the world’s major problems.
In his Facebook Live conversation with the couple, Shelton said, “If we want a world that is about merit, equality and equity, we have to say what can we do to mitigate the barriers to learning and children reaching their potential.”
James Shelton speaks at 5 p.m. Nov. 28 in the Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building’s Bonchek Lecture Hall.