The Future of Education is Here

3DE, a nationally recognized Junior Achievement education model, is entering the Fort Wayne Community Schools system this fall.
Apr 4, 2022
Karla St. Myers
Jeffrey Crane

“A high school model to break through traditional barriers and redesign the framework of education from the inside out.” This is the vision for 3DE by Junior Achievement (JA), and it is entering the state of Indiana for the first time through the Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) system in the fall of 2022. 

Developed through a shared vision from esteemed leaders in education, business and JA, 3DE is a transformative educational model that challenges the standard of current high school learning and engagement. Opposite the traditional sit-and-get approach, this program promotes active learning and places a robust emphasis on applying information learned in class to complexities beyond the four classroom walls. Dr. Mark Daniel, Ph.D, superintendent for FWCS understands the importance of this shift in 21st century education.

“The world is changing so rapidly and the days of using traditional teaching methods are fleeting,” says Daniel. “Passive learning is gone. We need our students collaborating, working in teams and thinking critically to solve real world issues.”

Under a 5-year, $3.86 million contract, FWCS will launch 3DE at Snider and North Side high schools at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. Beginning with the freshman class, students will have the opportunity to participate in competency-based case method learning experiences, working with educators, fellow classmates and local business leaders from renowned organizations like Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI), Franklin Electric, Parkview Health, Arby’s, Fort Wayne Metals, Indiana Michigan Power and Wayne Pipe & Supply.

3DE’s “three Cs” are an integral part of what has made the model so successful: Cohorts, Case Challenges and Competencies. In-depth case challenges of the aforementioned businesses form the foundation of the 3DE curricula and each case has a competency, doubling the learning that takes place in traditional classrooms. For example, how can SDI collaborate with local community organizations to improve its talent pipeline? How are these organizations helping to build job-related skills? Social studies class can help students examine the impact the local organizations have on the economy or job market. Math class might help with analyzing the data and drawing a conclusion. Students will work with cohorts to find solutions in a trusted environment. They will grow confidence, take chances and (sometimes) fail, but fail safely. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to compete and receive recognition at the national level, as they will participate in case studies for Arby’s, Delta and Truist.

As students begin to understand how academic concepts apply to the world around them, their level of engagement greatly increases. The 3DE model boasts impressive outcomes including a 42% drop in chronic absenteeism, a 34% improvement in graduation rates and a 90% persistence rate among college attendees. 

“This program prepares students for their postsecondary futures, whether that be college, a trade or the military,” says Pat Morello, Junior Achievement 3DE program manager. “They will be workforce ready and that is what’s fundamentally different from high school today.” 

While the 3DE model is of value to all students, it specifically targets the middle 50% of any class.

“We’re providing opportunity for economic mobility for students that might not have had that chance otherwise,” stresses Amy Gates-Stroud, national director for 3DE. “The socioeconomic level you grow up in is extremely difficult to change and there is significant research supporting that. 3DE is giving these kids choice-filled lives.”

Morello echoes that sentiment and emphasizes how getting high school students involved with local businesses at a young age will greatly benefit the northeast Indiana workforce.

“This resonates greatly with our business community,” says Morello. “These are the students we are preparing to be ideal candidates; they’re going to want to stick around and contribute to our region.”

As the implementation of 3DE begins with freshman, it will expand over the course of the next seven years by adding grades and schools. By year seven, upwards of 8,000 FWCS high school students will have access to the program. The model is meant to allow students to build on their knowledge each year, along with their confidence and maturity.

“Freshman year will teach students to accurately formulate a solution after understanding the problem,” explains Morello. “Sophomore year they’ll mature and will be able to thoughtfully think through a solution. Junior year they will learn from industry experts how to form an approach to a new entrepreneurial venture. By the time senior year rolls around, they will solve a problem just as they would if they were employed by the business.” 

3DE, Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana and Fort Wayne Community Schools have one common goal — provide the best education possible for students.

“We’re so fortunate to have one of the national leaders in JA right here in Fort Wayne,” says Daniel. “We’re all responsible for ensuring we have quality graduates who are inspired and career ready, and together we are working towards that.”  


For 3DE to be a viable educational model, the support of the local business community is needed. If you are interested in participating as a business partner or volunteer, please reach out to Lena Yarian (Lena.Yarian@JA.org) or Pat Morello (Pat.Morello@JA.org).


Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana

Address: 550 E. Wallen Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Phone: (260) 484-2543

Website: jani.org

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