Sal Khan, founder of the not-for-profit Khan Academy and the first celebrity advocate for NSBA’s national “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” campaign, has been named one of five recipients of the 19th annual Heinz Awards.
The awards, administered by the Heinz Family Foundation, were established in 1993 by Teresa Heinz to honor the work of her late husband U. S. Sen. John Heinz.
Khan is one of three celebrity spokesmen in NSBA’s national public advocacy campaign, Stand Up 4 Public Schools, where he will be joined by basketball legend and business mogul Earvin “Magic” Johnson and talk show host and celebrity spokesperson Montel Williams.
The idea for Khan Academy dates back to 2004, when Khan began remotely tutoring his young cousin, who was struggling with math, and began posting the videos on YouTube. Khan Academy houses more than 5,000 instructional videos and interactive lessons, and its resources are accessed by more than 10 million unique users per month, making it one of the most frequently used online education tools in the world.
“Salman Khan has been a pioneer in the use of online technology to promote personalized learning and to transform education,” Heinz, the foundation’s chairman, said in a written statement. “His Khan Academy is helping move education from a mass-production model where every student learns the same material at the same rate in the same way to an individualized model where students can learn and engage differently based on their personal styles of learning.”
Khan was given the award in the Human Condition category. The other award recipients are: Abraham Verghese, M.D., Arts and Humanities; Jonathan Foley, Ph.D, Environment; Sanjeev Arora, M.D., Public Policy; and Leila Janah, Technology, the Economy and Employment.
NSBA’s public advocacy campaign operates on a simple premise: “Who I am today began with public education,” paired with the rejoinder, “Today’s public schools are better than ever.”
In one of the advertisements featuring Khan, he notes that “People talk about college and career readiness, but both are just a means to an end. What we really need to talk about is life readiness.”