We announced this week that the Center for Philosophy for Children will no longer be an official part of the University of Washington, but will return to its roots as an independent nonprofit organization and will merge with PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), effective January 1, 2022.

The Center was an independent nonprofit from its founding in 1996 until it became a University of Washington academic research center in 2017.  Since then, as the Center developed programs that had a more national reach and were unrelated to the university, it became apparent that it would be beneficial to return to being an independent nonprofit organization.

And on several occasions over the past eleven years, as PLATO has grown, PLATO leadership has considered the need for the organization to be grounded in a community and to develop into a more sustainable entity, with a paid staff. As the leadership of both organizations tried to determine the path forward, it seemed advantageous for the two organizations to merge.  Many of the same people are involved in both organizations, PLATO and the Center are both incorporated in Washington as nonprofit organizations, and there is great compatibility between the two organizations in terms of mission, scope, and culture.

Together, rebranded as PLATO, the new merged organization will now have the capacity to expand the work in which both organizations have been engaged for many years:  to support and advance philosophy for young people and to empower the voices of youth. The current staff of the Center will become the staff of PLATO, as follows:

Executive Director: Jana Mohr Lone
Education Director: Karen S. Emmerman
Program Director: Debi Talukdar
Outreach Coordinator: Kate Goldyn


Among its expanded activities and programs, PLATO will fund innovative philosophy programs around the United States; run online and in-person classes, workshops, and webinars for educators, families, and students; offer an intensive 10-week online program, Philosophy in Schools; help schools around the world develop philosophy programs; run a Philosophers in the Schools program; publish two journals, (Questions:  Philosophy for Young People; and Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice); and convene both a biennial conference and a biennial teaching and learning seminar for teachers.

PLATO will continue to collaborate with the University of Washington and faculty in the Department of Philosophy on projects concerning philosophy for young people. Although there will be no financial or legal ties between PLATO and the University, we anticipate a continued mutually supportive relationship between the university and the new merged organization.

Having been a founder of and leader in both organizations, for me this is the coming together of many of the initiatives and ideas I have worked on for years. I see great promise in this new venture for building sustainable programs that can serve far more children and youth, teachers and other educators, parents and family members, than we have been able to reach in the past.

Looking forward to an exciting 2022! Happy new year to all.

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