Organization Details

What is your organization's name?

Luminos Fund

What is your organization's classification?


In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Boston, MA, United States

Provide your organization’s mission and/or vision statement and list its core values.

The Luminos Fund’s mission is to ensure all children have equal access to joyful, foundational learning, especially those shut out of education by crisis, poverty, or discrimination. Our vision is of a world where no child is denied an education.  

At Luminos, we believe that learning to read is a gatekeeping event in every child’s life. The power of foundational learning is unlocked for every child when we: 

  1. Believe that every child is capable of learning a remarkable amount in a short period of time, if given the chance.  
  2. Keep children’s joy, safety, and well-being at the heart of everything we do. 
  3. Embrace assessment as a key component of effective teaching and learning. 
  4. Center local leadership and needs throughout our work with partner communities, organizations, and governments.  
  5. Use research, program data, and skilled observation to inform our programs. 
  6. Celebrate different contexts and cultures both inside and outside the classroom. 
  7. Act with the highest integrity and care, ensuring mutual respect among colleagues, partners, and stakeholders. 
  8. Take the initiative to solve problems where we find them, managing details large and small.  
  9. Act deliberately to ensure that our organization and programs are inclusive for people of different genders, racial backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, abilities, and other sources of diversity. 
  10. Hold ourselves to the highest standards and support each other to meet them. 

How many products or programs does your organization operate? Please use numeric values only.


What stage of development is your organization’s product or program that is the focus of your LEAP Project?

Growth: An organization with an established product or program that is rolled out in one or more communities.
Team Lead Details

Who (first and last name) is the Team Lead for your application and LEAP Project?

Dr. William Chantereau

Describe the role the Team Lead plays in your organization. [100-200 words recommended]

Dr. William Chantereau is a Data Scientist for the Luminos Fund where he analyzes program data to propose data-driven solutions, builds tools to automate data processing, ensures data integrity, and oversees critical data management processes across the organization. 

Dr. William Chantereau previously worked as a data scientist at Vendigital in London, a top-tier management consultancy working to deliver data-led accelerated cost transformation. Before that, he  worked as an astrophysicist in France and the UK. Dr. William Chantereau holds a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and a master’s degree in Fundamental Physics from the University of Toulouse (France). 

Explain how your Team Lead and supporting team members are well-positioned to effectively support the LEAP Project, given other priorities within your organization. [200-500 words - recommended]

As an organization dedicated to delivering high-quality education to the most vulnerable children, Luminos is laser-focused on measuring and scaling its impact. Participating in the LEAP Project would be a high-impact accelerant for Luminos’ efforts to strengthen its capacity for data-based decision-making and drive better outcomes for students. With the support of the LEAP Project, our team will strengthen our Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEAL) capacity, and deepen our research base and partnership networks, which will be essential as we scale the Luminos program and advance evidence-based learning solutions.   

The Team Lead, along with other key members of Luminos’ data and research team, will prioritize full participation in the LEAP Project during the 12-week project sprint. Strengthening our evidence base and our impact for students is a key priority for the organization. Furthermore, the Luminos program is supported by our network of community partners—local community-based organizations whose capabilities Luminos helps build, support, and oversee. Our community partners support the delivery of the Luminos program, including monitoring and evaluation. This allows the Team Lead and other members of the data and research team the time to effectively support the LEAP Project.  

The team is comprised of highly skilled professionals with extensive experience with project management, designing and managing data-led systems and processes, and designing and delivering research projects, partnerships, and evaluations to support holistic, foundational learning for children at the margins. Luminos is also a proud member of several communities of practice, networks, and associations, which have afforded us a wealth of know-how and experience working collaboratively to accelerate evidence-based, high-impact education solutions.

Solution Details

One-line solution summary: In 20 words or less, summarize your organization's product or program that is the focus of your LEAP Project.

Accelerated learning program that helps children catch up to grade level, reintegrate into government schools, and prepare for lifelong learning.

Define the problem that your solution seeks to solve. [200-500 words recommended]

The global community is failing a generation of young people in the Global South who may never be able to unlock their full potential and thrive. Millions of children are unable to read or write by the age of ten: a crisis the World Bank calls “learning poverty.” This crisis has been exacerbated by COVID-19. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 98 million children are still excluded from education in the aftermath of COVID-19, and this number is increasing (UNESCO). Compounding this challenge, new crises stemming from the increased effects of climate change, conflict, and economic downturn put further pressure on education systems, with the most vulnerable children at high risk of dropping out.  

But, even before the pandemic, 258 million children were out of school. Among these out-of-school children, many struggled to access education systems that were unprepared to accommodate learning variability. While school systems in low-income countries have reopened classrooms, they are not set up to enable the most vulnerable children to catch up and thrive. 

Far too often, the most vulnerable children face the greatest barriers to accessing school and learning, and are forced to miss out on education. These barriers include inflexible curricula and one-size-fits-all instruction. Teachers do not have the knowledge and the tools to identify learners with diverse needs and are not trained to support those learners. There is a significant need to expand the knowledge base around learning variability across the region. To truly unlock every child’s learning potential, we must account for their unique differences. 

Describe your solution and how it works in simple terms. [200-500 words recommended]

The Luminos Fund launched in 2016 on the belief that every child deserves a chance to learn. Our mission is to ensure all children have equal access to joyful, foundational learning, especially those shut out of education by crisis, poverty, or discrimination. Luminos programs serve vulnerable and marginalized children aged 8-14 who have never attended school or dropped out before acquiring basic competencies. These girls and boys reside in some of the most remote corners of the world and are often forgotten by the mainstream school system. In just one school year, our students progress from not recognizing the letters of the alphabet to reading short stories. To date, our program has served over 218,000 children with holistic, foundational learning. 

Luminos focuses exclusively on reaching the most vulnerable out-of-school children with high-quality and foundational learning. We are one of few international, non-government organizations with a proven method, laser focus, and compelling track record for helping out-of-school children learn. We build transformative education programs, helping children catch up to grade level, reintegrate into government schools, and prepare for lifelong learning.  

Luminos uses a holistic, student-centered approach that leverages core principles of global research and reading science, reinterpreted for low-resourced contexts. Luminos students learn how to learn through a child-centric, activity-oriented, and assessment-led pedagogy that encourages collaboration and stimulates learning through mind and body. 

Our team works together with local partners to co-create a curriculum that is alive with national culture and traditions and takes into consideration students’ backgrounds and learning context. We use locally published readers so children can learn to read from books that reflect their reality, and we invite parents and community leaders into the classroom to play active roles in children’s learning journeys. We believe that by valuing students’ cultures, providing opportunities for students to experience academic success, and highlighting role models from similar backgrounds, students can dramatically change how they view themselves and their own potential. 

Furthermore, our program prioritizes deep classroom monitoring, proactive teacher coaching, rigorous assessment and learning meetings, and meaningful engagement with parents to support learning inside and outside the classroom. Our small class sizes help teachers to give individual attention to each child and to pace their learning accordingly. 

Select the key characteristics of your target population. Select all that apply.

  • Primary school children (ages 5-12)
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations

In which country or countries does your solution currently operate?

Ethiopia, Ghana, Lebanon, Liberia, The Gambia

Upload your solution's Theory of Change or Logic Model.

Where would you place your solution on Nesta's Standards of Evidence?

Level 3: You can demonstrate causality using a control or comparison group.

To date, what research/studies has your organization conducted that have helped demonstrate the effectiveness of your solution? [200-500 words recommended]

At Luminos, we are laser-focused on measuring our impact. Since inception, we have commissioned several external evaluations by global and local research partners to measure our program’s impact. Below is a list of our evaluations and research to date:  

  1. “Learning the Speed School Way: Analysis of Luminos (formerly, Speed School) Pedagogy in Ethiopia” in partnership with the University of Sussex (Qualitative)  
  2. “Research into the Speed School Curriculum and Pedagogy in Ethiopia” in partnership with the University of Sussex (Qualitative) 
  3. “Learning Through Play in Speed School, An International Accelerated Learning Program” in partnership with Lesley University (Literature review)  
  4. “Process evaluation of the Second Chance government adoption work in Ethiopia” in partnership with the University of Sussex  
  5. “Tracking the Progress of Speed School Students 2011-2017” in partnership with the University of Sussex (Longitudinal mixed methods) 
  6. “Luminos Liberia Second Chance Program Endline Evaluation 2018-19” in partnership with Q&A Services Liberia (Quantitative) 
  7. “2021 Second Chance Liberia Endline Evaluation” in partnership with Q&A Services Liberia (Quantitative) 
  8. “Liberia 2021-22 Endline Evaluation” in partnership with Q&A Services Liberia (Quantitative) 
  9. “Report on the Evaluation of the Quality of Teaching and Learning in the Second Chance Liberia Program” in partnership with the University of Sussex 
  10. “Rapid assessment of the psychosocial needs of primary school-aged children in Liberia” in partnership with ADARA Research & Management 
  11. “Luminos Fund in Ghana: Second Chance CBE Early Grade Reading Assessment and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment Endline Findings” in partnership with Education Assessment and Research Centre 
  12. “Evaluation of Ana Aqra’s Psychosocial Support Module in Lebanon” in partnership with Harvard University 
  13. Ongoing process evaluation of the Luminos Fund’s work with internally displaced children in Konso, Ethiopia, in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action 
  14. Ongoing randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Liberia to assess the impact of the program on children's learning outcomes in partnership with IDinsight 

In Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, and The Gambia, Luminos regularly conducts EGRA/EGMA assessments. In addition, across our country programs, our robust system of internal program monitoring, supported by our local partners, allows us to constantly update our approach to ensure that we are meeting the learning needs of students and maintaining implementation fidelity to our model. The Luminos MEAL system includes weekly rapid reading fluency tests and formative numeracy assessments, thrice-annual curriculum-aligned summative assessments, and weekly classroom coaching and feedback to teachers.

What has the research/studies you have conducted revealed about your solution and how did it inform your work moving forward? [200-500 words recommended]

Since the beginning, we have had a strong appetite for externally validating the impact of our education program for out-of-school children. Our ability to know how Luminos compares to existing approaches enables us to scale a model that works. Supported by years of rigorous evaluation, the Luminos program has been honed and refined to create transformative impact for the vulnerable children we serve. Sharing learnings generated through external research and evidence with other countries, education systems, and partners accelerates our collective ability to address the urgent learning crisis facing children today.  

A common theme across the results of our evaluations is the transformative learning progress that our students make and the overall high impact of the Luminos program. This is reflected in the results of the external evaluations we conduct every year in Liberia. For example, during the 2021-22 school year, the Luminos program increased children’s oral reading fluency by 28 correct words per minute (CWPM), with girls progressing 3 CWPM more than boys. The learning progress is striking – vast majority of Luminos students could not read a single word and struggle to identify letters at the beginning of the program. Luminos is currently conducting a randomized controlled trial in Liberia to assess the impact of the program on children's learning outcomes. Findings from this impact evaluation will support our robust evidence base to ensure continued impact and scale. 

A team of evaluators at the University of Sussex have hypothesized that the Luminos focus on ‘learning how to learn’ is a key component of these results: “The whole experience over the ten months appears to create learners who are not only reflexive but autonomous and resilient, having learnt how to learn” (Akyeampong, 2018). 

In Ethiopia, a six-year longitudinal study that tracked the progress of Luminos graduates who had transitioned to public schooling found that Luminos children complete primary school at twice the rate of government students, outperform government students in Math, English, and the local language, have higher aspirations for their academic and employment futures, and are more confident about their ability to learn. The study highlighted four key strengths of the Luminos pedagogy: emphasis on reading, student-centered instruction, activity-based learning, and emphasis on continuous formative assessments. 

Guided by these insights and the broader evidence base on foundational learning, we have distilled a core set of practices that form our methodology, also known as the Luminos Method ( These practices include: 

  • A strong focus on systematic phonics instruction, a proven method to help children overcome become confident, independent readers. 
  • Training and providing ongoing support to community teachers, high-potential young people from the same communities as our students. 
  • Assessing students weekly and adapting classroom instruction to respond effectively to a wide range of individual student needs and ensure that each child can progress. 
LEAP Project Details

Describe your organization's need to strengthen the evidence base of your solution. [200-500 words recommended]

Luminos has a robust evidence base and internal and external evaluation system to inform the continuous improvement of our program. Nonetheless, we recognize the need to strengthen our capacity for data-based decision-making to drive ever-better outcomes for students. For instance, in Luminos programs, average learning gains are significant; however, there is a small but persistent segment of students who seem to attend class regularly but fail to make material progress.   

To that end, we are working diligently to strengthen and refine our assessment and data collection capacities to better monitor individual student progress and learning gains in real time. To further improve the learning outcomes and understand the unique learning needs of each child, we must ensure the effective and rigorous collection of high-quality data at the student level, with rapid feedback loops.   

The Luminos MEAL system in each country includes weekly teacher-led assessments; thrice-annual curriculum-aligned summative assessments; and weekly field supervisor-administered assessments for a small sample of students in each classroom, followed by classroom coaching to teachers to ensure they are well-equipped to use assessment data to guide learning. This system is supported by our network of community-based organization partners. Our partners collect individual student assessment data quarterly, which is then processed and analyzed by our country teams to inform programmatic decisions.  

We believe there is significant value in streamlining our collection of student-level data, across our program countries, to both increase data quality and further strengthen our capacity to deliver rapid feedback and real time program iteration. We are exploring high-impact, low-cost solutions that will provide further insights into learning variability and inform improvements to teaching and learning strategies through the collection of reliable, localized assessment data.  

This low-tech, data-driven solution would allow us to monitor incremental learning gains through weekly student assessments. We work in challenging, low-resource contexts; ensuring the data we collect is relevant, timely, accurate, and complete is thus a key challenge. Our goals is to design a solution that offers insights into learning progress at the program, classroom, and individual student level in real or near-real time. With that knowledge, we could begin tailoring our instruction to individual student needs, well beyond our existing approaches to weekly remedial sessions and quarterly curriculum reviews. In the long-term, we would like this assessment tool to become the foundation for a responsive student management system that is in tune with learning achievement diversity across all our programs and offers highly specific insights into learning variability within our classrooms.  

With the expert support of the LEAP Fellows, we would assess the options that are fit for our operating contexts; identify the most promising low-cost, high-impact solution; assess the feasibility of the proposed solution; and plan a small-scale pilot to evaluate the solution in one geography and a handful of classrooms. This partnership would be highly beneficial to Luminos as we refine our approaches to holistic learning and to ensuring that every child in our classrooms gains foundational literacy and numeracy skills by the end of our 1-year program. 

What are 2-3 research questions that you would like your LEAP Project to help you answer? [100 words recommended]

  1. What existing low-tech, cost-effective student assessment tools can be used to monitor incremental learning gains in foundational literacy and numeracy skills in real time? 
  2. How can Luminos measure learning variability among our students by collecting real-time, student-level assessment data? 
  3. How can Luminos assess the impact of using real-time assessment data to inform program-, classroom-, and student-level interventions? 

What type of research/studies do you think will help answer your stated questions? Select all that apply.

  • Foundational research (literature reviews, desktop research)
  • Formative research (e.g. usability studies; feasibility studies; case studies; user interviews; implementation studies; pre-post or multi-measure research; correlational studies)

Please elaborate on your selection above by describing your desired outputs of the 12-week LEAP Project sprint. [200 - 500 words recommended]

Our desired outputs of the 12-week LEAP Project are: 

Foundational research:  

  1. A detailed and comprehensive analysis of existing low-tech, cost-effective student -assessment tools that monitor incremental learning gains in foundational literacy and numeracy skills in real or near-real time. For instance, we would like to explore the possible use of the self-administered EGRA and EGMA based on the Tangerine application and developed by RTI. 

Formative research: 

  1. A minimum viable product proposal for a low-tech, cost-effective student assessment tool that monitors incremental learning gains in real or near-real time, informed by foundational research findings, user interviews, and a thorough understanding of the local contexts of the Luminos classrooms and students. 
  2. A feasibility study to evaluate the proposed low-tech, cost-effective student assessment tool, tailored to a single geography and informed by a thorough understanding of the local contexts of the Luminos classrooms and students. 
  3. A pilot implementation plan, including proposed classroom selection criteria and a training plan, informed by existing implementation or case studies and applicable to the local contexts of the Luminos classrooms and students. 
  4. A robust pilot evaluation plan to identify design and implementation challenges, assess the potential for impact on student learning of the proposed solution, and determine core components of the solution that drive the impact at a small scale in a single geography and a handful of classrooms. 

How will your organization put these outputs into action? [200-500 words recommended]

We have in-house technical expertise to develop the proposed minimum viable product, and we have strong, agile country teams to oversee the execution of the proposed pilot implementation plan. We will follow the proposed selection criteria to identify pilot classrooms. We will use the quarterly teacher trainings to pilot assessment-led instruction by building upon their existing experiences with weekly student assessments. Our field supervisors also assess students on every classroom visit and use that data to inform their teacher coaching strategies. To ensure the quality of the student-level assessment data, we will capitalize on the expertise of our field supervisors who visit classrooms weekly and can identify implementation challenges as they arise. At the end of the pilot, we will investigate the impact of the proposed solution by comparing student learning outcomes in the pilot with a control group. 

At Luminos, we use a test-learn-adapt approach that is central to our success. After the pilot, we will collect feedback from students, teachers, and supervisors to inform further iterations of the assessment tool and process. If we can demonstrate impact on learning achievements at a small scale, we will then proceed to adapting the process for scale within a single geography. We will be actively identifying ways to simplify and streamline the approach – we know that ensuring implementation fidelity becomes more challenging at scale. As our programs mature, we work closely with governments to support them to take up our model and scale it to reach all out-of-school children in our countries of operation. Cost-effectiveness is thus another key consideration that we will be assessing as we scale. 

Our work demonstrates that success does not come from perfecting a single model that can be replicated unchanged in every context. Everywhere we operate, about 70% of our program model is the same, while a key 30% is customized to the local context in partnership with community-based organizations and ministries of education. For example, a rapid student assessment tool that works in Ghana will have to be adapted to the unique contexts of Ethiopia. Therefore, assessment content will have to reflect the different languages of instruction and the different skills our curricula cover. 

In the long term, we would like this assessment tool to become the foundation for a context-aware, real time student management system that measures learning progress across all our programs and offers specific insights into learning variability within our classrooms.

Describe your desired short-term and long-term outcomes of the 12-week LEAP Project sprint for both your organization and solution. [200-500 words recommended]

In the short term, the outputs of the proposed LEAP Project would strengthen our capacity to measure and understand learning variabilities among students through the collection of high-quality real-time assessment data. This data will be used by three audiences. 

At the program level, country teams will use it to understand cross-cutting challenges and to rapidly introduce and assess solutions to those challenges as they arise. We already have processes in place to do that; but the programmatic decisions we make are based on average learning achievements based on a small sample of students our supervisors assess weekly. 

At the classroom level, supervisors will use it to identify classroom-specific barriers to learning, to adapt their teacher coaching approaches, and to evaluate the impact of their coaching week-over-week. Our supervisors assess selected students weekly and review teacher-administered assessment results weekly. The expected outcome of the project at the classroom level would be an improvement in the quality of the assessment data collected, and an improvement in the ability of our supervisors to use the data to inform their approaches to teacher coaching. 

At the student level, teachers will use it to adapt their instruction to fit the diverse needs of their students, using the techniques introduced during quarterly teacher trainings and weekly supervisor visits. Our teachers already assess students weekly; the expected outcome of the project at the student level would be an improvement in the quality of the data collected, and an improvement in the ability of our teachers to use the data to inform their teaching. 

In the long term, we expect the outcome of the project to be a positive impact on student learning through a deeper, more nuanced, timely understanding of learning progress and learning variability that informs solutions that are responsive to the diverse needs of our students and teachers. Achieving a better understanding of each student’s learning progress will enable Luminos to make informed decisions across the key components of our methodology. For example: 

  • Introducing new enhancements to the core modules of the Luminos program. 
  • Adapting curricula to be more responsive to the diverse needs of our students. 
  • Adapting our teacher training approaches to build their skills in identifying learners with diverse needs and to support those learners to succeed. 
  • Adapting our approaches to weekly classroom monitoring to tailor teacher coaching to the specific classroom, teacher, and student needs. 

Solution Team

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