Our mission is to develop 21st century wayfinders who understand what deeply matters to them so they can be confident, intentional navigators capable of tackling the issues that they care about in the world.

“If you don’t have a vision, someone else will create one for you.”
— Nainoa Thompson, President and Navigator, Polynesian Voyaging Society

from self-awareness to a focus outside the self

In visual form, our mission looks like this:

We believe Project Wayfinder can help students develop and deepen both their internal and external awareness, and strengthen the bridge between them.  A self-aware, purposeful student is then much better equipped to leverage the wealth of skills and knowledge already being provided through their traditional education.  If our recipe is right, you’ve created the conditions for students have an empowered ability to make things happen.



At the d.school, we often get asked the question of how we measure impact.  One way is certainly through the project work of students that evolves into something real in the world, often impacting the lives of people at a large scale.  But the way we most often see ourselves making impact is by preparing future innovators, not in creating life-changing innovations.  In other words, it’s about the transformation in the students, about coming to see themselves as a creatively confident beings with the ability both to generate ideas and act on them in the world.  

At Project Wayfinder, we’re aiming for something similar.  We’re less interested in helping students find their (one) “purpose,” which feels like it’s one more thing to achieve, or one more thing to feel stressed about if you don’t have. Instead...

We want to equip students with the behaviors, tools, and mindsets of being a “wayfinder” so that they can fluidly explore many “purposes” throughout their lives.


More important than the end destination is the wayfinder person, along with the process he or she uses to self-navigate:  the tools, behaviors, and mindsets needed grow into a successful wayfinder equipped to pursue a path of purpose.

We define wayfinding as using an experiential, reflective, and iterative process to actively guide one’s learning journey toward a path of purpose.  



from fancy boats drifting to wind-filled sails

Raj recently participated in a Wayfinder 5-day program.

Raj recently participated in a Wayfinder 5-day program.

“You guys coming in was like the wind for my windmill… it stirred all these things inside of me. It was like the energy I needed to move my machine.”
— Raj, sophomore at ISAK

How does Project Wayfinder amplify a student's existing set of educational foundations and experiences?  

Imagine a nice new sailboat out at sea, but without any wind.  Without a way to propel itself, it’s just a fancy boat drifting.  But with a little wind, it dynamically springs to action, along with its captain.

We imagine this to be like what Project Wayfinder might do for students.  They are immersed in an ever-growing vast depth of academic knowledge and skills (the ocean), which provides the foundation for any number of pathways in life if navigated with focus.  On top of that foundation, many of them have been given life experiences inside or outside of school which begin to suggest a way (the sailing vessel) to navigate the ocean, but don’t come with a built-in power source.  Students have the foundation and are building the how, but don't yet have the why

Without a why (the wind), the sail boat might drift for a while and then eventually resort to motoring somewhere.  


This puts the boat in autopilot mode… it’s traveling in a straight line, and the captain relaxes while the boat does the work.  

But when the wind blows, and the captain has a why, the boat comes alive and takes off.  The captain and crew are completely engaged, working together and constantly making real-time decisions and adjustments.  There’s action, and everyone is aware and attentive (and having fun).

Yes, the wind isn’t always a constant propellor source… it varies in direction and intensity, just like having a sense of purpose comes to us in real life.  But when it does blow, it’s worth the wait.  At Project Wayfinder, we want to be the wind for our students’ sails. After all, it is not worth going on a trans-Pacific voyage by engine alone; it is not living fully to go through life on auto-pilot.

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