There is considerable evidence that students in private, religious, and homeschooling environments experience more care and connectedness from staff and peers along with a greater sense of purpose and meaning. However, few schools of education in our nation’s colleges and universities focus on cultivating teachers and leaders for these alternative institutions.
The Adolescent Flourishing Initiative (AFI) aims to change that trajectory for educators. We will equip K-12 teachers, leaders, and entrepreneurs with the framework and tools they need to provide young people with the foundation for a flourishing life.
Behavioral health disorders, primarily substance abuse and mental illness, have been described as the chronic diseases of the young—they typically first appear during adolescence. If K-12 education fails to foster authentic connection and purpose, we will see a growing public health crisis with grave implications for a generation of youth destined to lead our nation.
With its reputation for intellectual independence and a resolute commitment to academic freedom, UATX is attracting world-renowned scholars who are committed to an integrated, non-ideological study across disciplines. Together, we have the opportunity to create the leading program for future educators and entrepreneurs seeking to increase adolescent flourishing in the United States – and potentially the world.
Among Michael's well-known innovations at his schools is Socratic Practice, a form of text-based intellectual dialogue designed to increase SAT verbal scores and increase intellectual sophistication. As an expert in this space, he is the author of The Habit of Thought: From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice and has consulted for hundreds of schools and universities across the world.
Michael's work as an educational entrepreneur led to a partnership with John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods. John and Michael co-founded a non-profit that gave birth to well-known programs, including Conscious Capitalism and Peace through Commerce. Michael is also the lead author of Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalism Can Solve All the World's Problems. He is uniquely qualified to lead AFI at UATX.
Leading alongside Michael is Lauren M. Postler, Director of Strategic Growth for AFI.
Following in the footsteps of a family dedicated to military and spiritual service, Lauren strives to apply the principles of servant leadership in all her endeavors. She is deeply committed to what she calls the “Four E’s of Economic Prosperity” for all: education, entrepreneurship, energy & elections.
With almost 20 years of experience in strategic planning, change management, capacity building and collaborations for nonprofit organizations and Fortune 500 businesses alike, Lauren brings a wealth of knowledge, a dynamic skill set and a passion to her work with mission-driven organizations. Her previous involvement in fundraising with leaders in the oil & gas industry and background as a social worker has lent itself to both a “grass-roots” and “big picture” approach helping social entrepreneurs build their brands and raise capital to fuel their cause.
She previously worked on health & human service legislation, served as the Executive Director of Saint Anne School Foundation in Houston, Texas, and as the Director of Strategic Growth for the “LaunchPad” collective of entrepreneurial programs across the University of Texas System.
We are actively raising $3 million to attract additional industry-leading experts, host cutting-edge events for thought-leaders, and launch ground-breaking research projects in order to establish the world's leading, university-level program focused on preparing K-12 educators to prioritize adolescent flourishing. Investment opportunities include
With your support, AFI students and faculty will be at the forefront of the development of new educational models that advance human flourishing.
Contact Lauren Postler to learn more at LPostler@uaustin.org.