World Savvy

Know More. Care More. Do More.

Minneapolis, MN   |


World Savvy educates and engages youth to learn, work, and thrive as responsible global citizens.

Notes from the nonprofit

World Savvy's FY20 and FY21 Annual Reports, released in a digital format, can be found online at

Ruling year info


Co-Founder and Chief Executive Offier

Ms. Dana Mortenson

Main address

2429 Nicollet Ave

Minneapolis, MN 55404 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Project Spera



NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Promotion of International Understanding (Q20)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The current education system was designed in the Industrial Revolution – a different world, and time. Today, it is outdated and irrelevant in preparing our children for their future. Young people today are growing up in an increasingly diverse and globally connected world. And there is deep consensus that the industrial model of education is not adequately preparing students for a global 21st century at best, and at worst, producing inequitable outcomes for minority students. As the world changes, it is imperative that our education system also change to help students thrive in their schools, communities, and future workplaces. World Savvy envisions a system that is inclusive, adaptive, and positioned to prepare all students equitably for life and work in the 21st century and beyond.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Global Competence Certificate (GCC)

The GCC is a first of its kind graduate level certificate program in global competence education offered to in-service educators by World Savvy in collaboration with Teachers College, Columbia University, and Asia Society. This 15-month online program provides rigorous academic coursework, immersive global fieldwork, and structured peer-to-peer collaboration to help educators develop the capacity to embed global competence into teaching and learning. Educators can enroll to receive 48 CEUs towards fulfillment of most state licensure renewals or 12 graduate credits that can be transferred to most graduate programs. More information is available at

Population(s) Served

Customized Consulting for Districts and Schools – World Savvy Partnerships offer schools and districts a range of choices for customized services, including assessment of teaching and learning environments around global competence, curriculum development and instructional practice across all subject areas in alignment with Common Core standards, and systematic integration of global competence education into classrooms and school culture.

Student Engagement – Project-and-inquiry based learning, and the integration of the arts are some of the most powerful ways to engage youth in self-directed, authentic learning. Through the World Savvy Classrooms program, students engage in signature projects based on these approaches, which builds global competence while inspiring students to transform their knowledge into positive action to impact their community and the world. The Classrooms program is aligned with and supports Common Core State Standards, ensuring that students learn the required ‘core’ content mandated by state and national standards, but do so in a way that establishes real world connections to the material.

Professional Development – Our workshops and instructional coaching services are designed to enhance educators’ capacity to integrate global competence into classroom instruction and discourse. ‘One-off’ isolated interventions for educators have little to no sustainable impact on their teaching practice; by contrast, our approach features ongoing customized and differentiated support and models the most effective principles with respect to adult learning and development. This approach produces significant gains for individual educators and therefore multiplies the impact on students over the long term.

Collaborative Networks – World Savvy’s online network helps teachers deepen their understanding and practice of global competence, access resources, and build social capital through peer interaction. Students participating in the World Savvy Classrooms program have the opportunity to connect with peers across projects, schools, and geographies to share resources and learning. Both student and teacher alumni are also engaged through this platform, allowing opportunities to further deepen the understanding of global competence among the community and access strategies for continued learning and action.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

World Savvy collaborates with partners in rural communities where the economic impact of globalization is felt acutely and increasing ethnic and cultural diversity presents an opportunity to think differently, and more inclusively, about shaping community. Here, we support rural communities as they navigate change and build future-ready education systems.

We’ve worked in collaboration with a cohort of five K-12 schools, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Pellissippi State Community College, and the East Tennessee Foundation to build the East Tennessee Global Education Network (GEN). Together, we’re building learning environments where relevant instruction and workforce preparation is available to all kids.

In partnership with Somali Community Resettlement Services (SCRS), a steering committee comprised of parents, students, teachers, and school administrators, and Minnesota State, Mankato, we’re working to build a blueprint for inclusion of Somali students in Southeast Minnesota.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Immigrants and migrants

Where we work


Social Entrepreneur Fellow 2011


40 Under 40 Progressive American Leaders 2010

New Leaders Council

Jane Bagley Lehman Award 2014

Tides Foundation

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

85% of students participating in World Savvy programming will:
- Apply critical, comparative and creative thinking to problem solving and action projects.
- Collaborate effectively as they design and implement K2A plans.
- Demonstrate deep understanding of a significant global issue. This means that students can describe how that issue is connected on both a local and global level, how that issue is connected to other global issues, and articulate the root causes of the issue.

85% of educators participating in World Savvy programming will:
- Integrate specific global competencies into student learning experiences.
- Design active learning experiences that engage students around significant global issues (with local impact) and help students build and foster global competencies.
- Identify and apply connections between required standards and the World Savvy Classrooms theme.
- Seek out multiple perspectives and opinions as they develop their own understanding about critical issues in our world today and provide opportunities for students to do the same.
- Enhance their practice through networking opportunities through in-person during professional learning workshops.

Global Competence Certificate Program Goals:
The GCC 15-month, graduate-level program is designed to establish a gold standard for excellence in globally competent teaching and to build a pipeline of educators who can transform learning for a global 21st century. The goals of the program are twofold – to increase both capacity and advocacy for the transformation of the U.S. education system to support global competence:
1. Increased capacity: Provide K-12 educators with enhanced and nuanced understanding of global issues and the skills and dispositions for global competence, along with the capacity to integrate the instructional methodology for global competence directly into classroom learning.
2. Increased advocacy: Create a pipeline of K-12 educators who are positioned to advocate for global competence education within their schools and districts, and have the propensity and inclination to support broader efforts to integrate global competence into U.S. education.

The core of World Savvy’s model pivots around World Savvy School Partnerships (WSSP), which support system-wide change in schools and districts to create more inclusive, adaptive, and future-ready schools. This comprehensive whole-school model provides direct support for students through project-based learning, enhances educators’ capacity to teach for global competence, and supports school leaders as they institutionalize this work in teaching, learning, and culture. This includes leadership development, staff development, student-centered learning, and systems to support the effective integration of global competence. Our multi-year partnerships are designed collaboratively with school leaders to align with each school’s strategic goals.
Our school partnerships may include, but are not limited to, the below program elements, determined in collaboration with school leadership.
Our work with students may include:
• Knowledge to Action (K2A) & Project Based Learning - Based in Design Thinking, K2A is a multi-step process in which youth learn about an issue, research potential solutions to address the root causes of the issue, think creatively and critically about how they can impact the issue and devise an action plan to create positive change.
• Case Studies - Global issues are complex with a wide array of perspectives to unpack; a case study starts with an authentic example that supports students with the voice and ideas of people who are deeply impacted by the issue.
• Design Thinking Challenges / K2A Popups - K2A pop ups are one day design challenges for middle and high school youth to come together and create ideas for making change in their community.
• School-based Student Festivals - A World Savvy Festival is a culminating event for students and educators participating in World Savvy to share their K2A learning and projects

Our work with educators may include:
• Workshops and Institutes - World Savvy offers a variety of in-person and virtual workshops and institutes for educators. Our personalized professional learning model supports the needs of individual educators and can also support cohort learning within and across schools / districts.
• Coaching - The World Savvy coaching framework aims to support educators as they embed global competence into their unit and lesson design and overall classroom culture.

Our work with school and district leaders may include:
• Leadership Support - World Savvy collaborates with school and district leaders around embedding global competence more deeply at all levels. Through this collaboration, a strategic vision is developed with various stakeholders.
• Situational Assessments - A Global Competence Situational Assessment is a systematic and participatory process to generate a deeper understanding of the strengths, assets, challenges and barriers to embedding global competence education in a specific organization, community or system.

The core World Savvy program team is an experienced group of professionals with a diverse skill set. We hire staff who are globally competent, work well across our constituencies, and have deep experiences with schools and districts and/or backgrounds working directly with youth and community-based organizations. Staff work collaboratively to design programs based on their experience and their deep understanding of global competence.

After almost 20 years of developing and implementing programs that integrate global competence into teaching, learning, and culture in K-12 education, national and international momentum for this work is gaining significant traction. The OECD integrated global competence as a new domain in the 2018 PISA test (largest international benchmark for educational achievement); the US Department of Education updated an international strategy which centers cultural and global competence, and states and districts across the US are looking for ways to respond to increasing demographic diversity and rapid change as they design and deliver education programs. World Savvy is in a powerful position to lead this movement nationally. We’re disrupting a status quo in mainstream K-12 education that no longer serves students or adequately prepares them for the future, and that has created inequitable outcomes for students from diverse backgrounds. We are ensuring that global competence is a defining characteristic of a quality education, and that our system in the U.S. truly prepares young people for future jobs, citizenship, and problem solving.

World Savvy has established itself as a leader in advocating for education reform and prioritizing the need for global competence in K-12 education. By fostering national discourse on the importance of global education, collaborating and sharing research and best practices with partners, and participating in national talks and conferences, World Savvy is positioned to play a prominent role in these next decisive years.

World Savvy was founded in 2002 by Dana Mortenson and Madiha Murshed in the wake of 9/11 – a time of fear and grief alongside xenophobia and discrimination – to address the need to educate and empower young people as informed global citizens. The founders believe that educating for global competence will ensure that students have the skills to be successful as professionals, citizens, and community members in a more diverse and rapidly globalizing world.

The organization has grown from providing programming to one high school in Oakland, CA to more than 808,700 students and 6,800 educators. World Savvy works toward systems change by creating the conditions for global competence to be deeply embedded into teaching, learning, culture, and policy.

By 2035, World Savvy’s goal is to engage a network of 10,000 K-12 schools in diverse geographies across the U.S., reaching an estimated 5 million students. We will leverage the learning and impact in this network of schools to change broader policy: to create a future-ready K-12 system that deeply and equitably prepares young people for life as engaged citizens, thriving professionals, and global problem solvers.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    World Savvy partners with educators and school leaders across the USA - and the world. World Savvy believes that all students are capable of becoming changemakers in their communities. The responsibility for building a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world where all people have the opportunity to thrive falls to all of us. We also believe that global competence education prepares students with the skills necessary for future success; therefore, it is essential education for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, geography, or socioeconomic status. World Savvy has made a commitment that at least 60% of the students we serve attend Title I schools.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Through feedback from educators and school leaders identifying the need for additional, systemic supports to more deeply embed global and cultural competence into their learning communities, World Savvy recently shifted our model to lean more heaviliy into our school partnerships model. This comprehensive whole-school model provides direct support for students through project-based learning, enhances educators’ capacity to teach for global competence, and supports school leaders as they institutionalize this work in teaching, learning, and culture. Our multi-year partnerships are designed collaboratively with school leaders to align with each school partner's strategic goals.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    World Savvy is grounded in our values, including believing collaboration is essential and noticing and disrupting exclusionary patterns. This shifts the balance power from our organization as the giver and clients as the receiver of services to a more equitable relationship where everyone contributes and our partners deeply impact our work. As an organization, we: - Look out for opportunities for collaboration and encourage people to reach out to others. - Proactively make space for collaboration, even if it might take a bit longer. - Create systems and processes to encourage collaboration. - Align our work, products, and services in a culturally responsive way. - Proactively plan resource allocation (financial, human capital, other) to reflect our commitment to equity.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve, Educators already have so many demands on their time,


World Savvy

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


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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World Savvy

Board of directors
as of 08/12/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Susan Kelly

Julia Cowles

Kahn Academy

Susan Kelly

Sarah Curfman

Amy Abouelenein

General Mills

Linda Ireland

Virginia Mills

Leslie Wright

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/5/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/05/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.