About

On March 8 and 9, in conjunction with SXSWedu, Institute for the Future and ACT Foundation are joining forces with students, workers, and educators across the country for Learning is Earning 2026—a 36-hour game to radically reimagine the future of working, learning, and living. 

The game uses IFTF’s Foresight Engine™ platform, designed by world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal. This is a powerful but easy-to-use gaming environment for imagining a variety of different futures. Participants in the experience use “cards” to play brief, twitter-length ideas. Players can expand upon one another’s cards to create “builds” as players debate, extend, and pose questions about other players ideas. The longer the chains, the richer the ideas—and the more points players win.

Why this topic?

The reality for many young people in the U.S. is that the traditional path of earning a four-year college degree prior to entering the workforce is simply not an option. In reality, millions of young people aged 14–29 are working while they are learning. These “working learners” are balancing earning both an education and an income simultaneously—often with the pursuit of one at the expense of the other. Using the Institute for the Future’s unique Foresight Engine™, we can help envision a future where learning and working are one, and we can build pathways now to what education and working could look like in the future. By challenging people to not only think about the future—but also help build it—the Learning is Earning 2026 challenge will gather innovative ideas about the future of working, learning, and living from a broad cross-section of today’s working learner community. 

Why is this important now?

In a time of increasing global competition and rapidly changing technologies, markets, and jobs, the ability to adapt and gain knowledge and skills has never been more critical. Research shows we are at our most creative when we are working together. This groundbreaking, collaborative approach to the future is designed to gather diverse ideas to be shared across the community, ensuring that we are including everyone—from the student balancing a job and college to the C-suite executive looking to train up a new workforce—in a shared vision for the future of learning and earning.

Why are ACT Foundation and Institute for the Future joining forces?

The reality for many young people in the U.S. is that the traditional path of earning a four-year college degree prior to entering the workforce is simply not an option. In reality, millions of young people aged 14–29 are working while they are learning. These “working learners” are balancing earning both an education and an income simultaneously—often with the pursuit of one at the expense of the other.

Using the Institute for the Future’s unique Foresight Engine™, we can help envision a future where learning and working are one, and we can build pathways now to what education and working could look like in the future. By challenging people to not only think about the future—but also help build it—the Learning is Earning 2026 challenge will gather innovative ideas about the future of working, learning, and living from a broad cross-section of today’s working learner community.