May 2, 2023 · 4 min read

Along Honored as a ‘World Changing Idea’

Fast Company recognizes the teacher-student connection builder as a creative solution for student engagement.

Along named a 2023 World Changing Ideas Finalist by Fast Company

Along – a free teacher-student connection builder offered by Gradient Learning – has been named by Fast Company as a 2023 ‘World Changing Idea’ finalist. Selected from over 2,200 entries, the accolade places Along in an elite group of honorees celebrated for sustainable designs, innovative products, and bold social initiatives changing the way we work, live, and interact with the world. This award also joins other recognitions Along has received this school year, including a Special Mention on TIME Best Inventions 2022 and Common Sense Best Tools for Back to School 2022.

“When we set out to build Along, we imagined the transformation that could take place if every student felt connected to at least one educator at their school. If students feel understood, they bring more motivation and engagement to the classroom and are more likely to bring a positive focus to their academics” said Samia Zaidi, Along’s Program Director. “It’s an honor that Along has been recognized as a World Changing Idea. We hope that we are able to make a difference in the lives of students and educators on a daily basis.”

Along is designed to be an easy way for educators to get to know students on a deeper level so students are motivated to participate and learn. When educators log in to Along, they have instant access to a library of reflection questions, classroom activities, and educator practice resources informed by research and created to unlock connection. Educators have the option to send a reflection question – or write one of their own – and students choose how and when they want to respond using quick video, audio, or text message.

Fifty percent of students say they are not engaged in what they are learning in school most of the time (2021-22 Speak Up Research Project). When students are able to connect and form relationships, it drives a stronger sense of self, a greater ability to learn, and better life outcomes. After using Along in Rochester Public Schools, 83% of students said that Along has helped their teacher get to know them and 76% of students said that Along has helped them be more open with their teacher. It also helped students of color feel more seen and known at school: 84% of students of color said that Along helped their teacher get to know them and 83% of students of color said that using Along has helped their teacher be more open with them. (Data from Rochester Public Schools Case Study)

Gradient Learning and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are using research and evidence-based practices from the fields of learning science and human development to build tools, like Along, designed to help educators differentiate learning experiences for every student. Along was developed in partnership with researchers, students and educators and inspired by the Search Institute’s applied research on building developmental relationships.

Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards showcase some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and forward-thinking companies that are actively tackling global challenges. Browse the full list of winners here.


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our communities. Through collaboration, providing resources and building technology, our mission is to help build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit

About Along
Along is a teacher-student connection builder provided at no cost by Gradient Learning, a nonprofit organization founded and led by educators who are driven to bring communities, schools, and families together in pursuit of meeting the needs of every student. Using simple, yet powerful, reflection questions, Along helps to solve the connection gap between teachers and their students by fostering authentic conversations. It has earned the iKeepSafe FERPA and COPPA privacy badges in recognition of its alignment with privacy, safety, and security best practice guidelines. With the support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Gradient Learning partners with communities, schools, and educators to create solutions—such as the Summit Learning program and Along—to meet the holistic needs of every student while fostering success for all.

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