XQ Super School

Reimagining the future of high schools

The XQ Super School Project, a national competition organized by Laurene Powell Jobs, called on the nation to reimagine and design the future high school. Three of New York City’s leading educational institutions—Riverdale
Country School, Together Education (formerly UKA Ventures), and Transcend Education—are teaming up to design and implement a program that
better prepares students for the rigorous challenges of
college, jobs, and life.

For the Super School Team’s XQ submission, Openbox became their research and design partner. We captured and filmed qualitative research with youth around changing needs for education and professional growth, and prioritized the Leaders’ key areas of emphasis. Utilizing the learning from research, Openbox worked together with the Team to design and develop written concepts and produce supporting visuals and videos that together display clear and compelling depictions, both visual and verbal, of the model concept to be included in the XQ application.

The final concept was named “NXU”, an innovative lab school and education platform named after nexus, the Latin word for connection.

We interviewed current and former high school students at the Robin Hood Foundation Teen Council Meeting and the KIPP NYC/Uncommon Schools event.

Qualitative research

To ground ourselves in the realities of the High School educational system, the Openbox team supported the Project Lead in conducting and capturing a series of qualitative group sessions followed by one-one-one interviews to better understand and contextualize the perceptions, needs, aspirations, and values of internal and external stakeholders.

For each area of research—Students in the 21st Century, Youth Experience and Aspirations, The Science of Adolescent Learning—we presented our findings in the form of a short film.


The fully fleshed out NXU concept includes the school mission and culture, program overview, two learning experiences, and profiles of representative students and their growth and development journeys through NXU.

(1/4) Part of our submission to XQ Super School: the proposed mission, purpose and core values.
(2/4) Part of our submission to XQ Super School: an overview of the proposed program.
(3/4) Part of our submission to XQ Super School: an example of how a student’s learning experience can be guided by a digital tool that centralizes their in-the-clasroom and in-the-field learning in one place.
(4/4) Part of our submission to XQ Super School: a student profile describing their growth and development journey through high school.