Mission and History

From its inception in 1993, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University (hereafter the Annenberg Institute) has been focused on improving educational opportunities for children. Though its mission has broadened and deepened under the leadership of John Papay, its core concerns with reducing educational inequality and promoting educational excellence have remained constant.


Our core mission is to understand the causes and consequences of educational inequality and to reduce this inequality through innovative, multidimensional, and research-informed approaches. We premise our work on the conviction that reduced inequality and improved educational opportunities lead to enriched lives for children and youth, ultimately contributing to more just and flourishing societies.

The Institute strives to equalize and improve educational opportunities. By bringing together diverse thinkers to tackle difficult problems, the Institute advances the broader field: harnessing the power of Brown’s community to develop education leaders, building actionable knowledge through systematic research, partnering with educators and policy-makers for local impact, and encouraging robust civic discourse.



  • 2023

    John PapayEducation scholar John Papay to direct Brown’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform. Papay has served as interim director since January. In taking on the role for the longer term, he will continue to position the Annenberg Institute to serve as a hub of education scholarship that confronts some of the most pressing issues in teaching and learning, including opportunity gaps and learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. By creating a broader set of opportunities for engagement and learning for students, postdoctoral fellows, researchers, scholars and practitioners across campus and beyond, Papay plans to expand the institute's robust set of collaborative research projects, generating insights that can be directly applied to teaching practices and education policy.

  • 2019

    President Paxson speaking to Annenberg Undergrad Fellows
    The Annenberg Institute at Brown University develops and launches EdWorkingPapers.com in May 2019. This national working paper series provides open access to high-quality papers across disciplines on a wide variety of education topics. EdWorkingPapers focuses particularly on pre-publication research with strong implications for education policy. To date, EdWorkingPapers has 157 scholar contributors from across the nation.

    Dr. Loeb spearheads the creation of the Annenberg Undergraduate Fellows for Education and Social Policy Program. Designed to prepare current Brown undergraduates to engage in rigorous empirical research in education and social policy, the program is comprised of an 8-week paid summer internship, followed by research and workshop opportunities throughout the remainder of the student’s undergraduate experience. The program welcomes its first cohort in the summer of 2019.

  • 2018

    Dr.Susanna LoebDr. Susanna Loeb — previously the Barnett Family Professor of Education at Stanford University and founding Director of the Center for Education Policy at Stanford — assumes leadership of the Institute in July 2018. Reflecting the University's strategic plan Building on Distinction, Dr. Loeb refocuses the Institute’s mission and restructures its relationship to the University. Under Dr. Loeb’s guidance, the Institute emphasizes closer integration with the University’s research and teaching mission, and aims to create a hub of scholarship and policy work that engages faculty, students, and practitioner experts. This work addresses the causes, consequences, and mitigation of educational inequality with the goal of creating scalable solutions.

  • 2017

    In order to increase coordination between the Annenberg Institute and Brown University more broadly, several former Institute programs move to continue their work in new organizational homes. In September 2017, the New York-based Community Organizing and Engagement team moves to the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University’s Steinhardt School. And in November 2017, the New England-based Community Organizing & Engagement team and the District & Systems Transformation team move to Roger Williams University’s School of Continuing Studies.

  • 2015

    In December, Dr. Warren Simmons steps down as Executive Director of the Annenberg Institute. He continues to serve as senior fellow and team-teaches a course in urban systems and structure in Brown University’s Urban Education Policy master’s program. Former Institute Deputy Director Michael Grady is named Interim Executive Director.

  • 2012-2017

    The Annenberg Institute hosts the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet.

  • 2012

    President Ruth J. SimmonsThe Annenberg Institute’s Board of Overseers establishes the Ruth J. Simmons Urban Education Policy Scholarship. This permanent annual award goes to the UEP graduate student who most epitomizes the former Brown University president’s commitment to educational equity and social justice. Dr. Simmons, who served as Chair of the Institute’s Board of Overseers beginning with her appointment as Brown’s President in 2001, was instrumental in urging the Institute and the University’s Education Department to collaborate on a graduate program in the study of urban public education.

  • 2011-2014

    In partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation, the Annenberg Institute sponsors a series of eight forums focused on "Building a 21st Century Education System."

  • 2008-2009

    2008-2009: The Annenberg Institute supports the Governor's Urban Education Task Force, a key factor in Rhode Island's successful Race to the Top application.

  • 2007

    The Annenberg Institute opens an expanded New York officeThe Annenberg Institute opens an expanded New York office in the Woolworth Building in lower Manhattan.

  • 2006

    The Institute's programs and staff expand with the assimilation of the Community Involvement Program, formerly affiliated with the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.

  • 2005

    UEP Program
    In collaboration with Brown’s Education Department and other University entities, the Institute establishes a Master’s Program in Urban Education Policy (UEP), with the first cohort of students entering the program in the summer of 2006. The tightly focused 12-month academic curriculum, integrated with a 9-month internship, is designed to impart a set of core skills and competencies necessary for successful careers in urban education policy.

  • 2003

    Voices in Urban Education
    The inaugural issue of the Annenberg Institute’s quarterly journal, Voices in Urban Education (VUE), is published in the spring of 2003, and ceases publication after 48 issues in the spring of 2018.

  • 2001

    The Institute moves its Providence operations to new headquarters on Benefit Street, just off the Brown campus.

  • 2000

    Annenberg Institute's HouseThe Annenberg Institute opens a small office in New York City in conjunction with the launch of its Task Force on the Future of Urban Districts.

  • 1998

    Dr. Warren SimmonsIn October 1998, Dr. Warren Simmons leaves his position as Director of the Philadelphia Education Fund to become Executive Director of the Institute. Under Dr. Simmons’ leadership, the Institute adopts a mission statement concentrating on the critical need to improve schools in the nation’s urban communities.

  • 1996

    Dr. Vartan GregorianAfter Dr. Sizer's retirement in 1996, Dr. Vartan Gregorian — then President of Brown University — serves as Acting Director of the Annenberg Institute, and Ramón Cortines, a member of the Board of Overseers, serves as Interim Director.

  • 1993-1996

    Dr. Theodore R. SizerThe Annenberg Institute’s founder and first Director is education reform leader Dr. Theodore R. Sizer. Dr. Sizer was previously the founder and Chairman of the innovative Coalition of Essential Schools, which envisioned a type of whole-school reform, with differentiated learning and a commitment to educating informed citizens. Under Dr. Sizer, the Institute builds upon the work of the Coalition and expands its goals, endeavoring to support sustained, focused efforts to enhance the quality of learning of children and youth across the country.

  • 1993

    Ambassador Walter H. AnnenbergThe Annenberg Institute is established through an anonymous gift to Brown University of $5 million. A subsequent $50 million gift — part of Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg's $500 million Challenge to the Nation to improve public education in America — enables the fledgling organization to expand the scope of its work. In appreciation for this generous gift, the Institute is renamed in the philanthropist’s honor.

    Note: While the Annenberg Institute received an initial gift and other grants from the Annenberg Foundation (Ambassador Annenberg’s charitable trust), Annenberg Institute is a separate entity from the Foundation and from other organizations that were beneficiaries of the Foundation and bear the Annenberg name. Annenberg Institute does not make grants and cannot consider proposals for funding from outside organizations.