Celebrating 20 Years - Institute for Educational Advancement

The Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA) recently turned 20! On July 9, 1998, IEA was founded as a nonprofit in Southern California to meet the needs of gifted youth and their families in Southern California and nationally. As we reflect on two decades of working with brilliant students, parents and teachers, we invite you to celebrate with us and share your memories.





We hope you enjoyed celebrating our 20th Anniversary with us! 


  • Sunday, October 21, 2018: Bay Area Celebration Event 

We hosted an evening reception to support gifted education programs and services at Il Fornaio in Burlingame. Speakers included Dr. Robert Sapolsky, Professor, Stanford University and Elizabeth D. Jones.


Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the evening!


  • Saturday, February 9, 2019: 20th Anniversary Celebration Event

We celebrated at Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena with IEA students, faculty and staff both past and present. 


Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the evening!


Since 1998, IEA has impacted the lives of thousands of gifted youth across the country. Here we feature just a few of the individuals who have benefited from our programs. (Roll over each photo to read the story.)

Byron Lichtenstein - Caroline D. Bradley Scholar, Yunasa, Apprenticeship, Current IEA Board Member

My relationship with IEA began in 2002 when I was a seventh grader. For years I struggled between unmotivated teachers who ignored me because I was “doing fine” and amazing teachers who were too shackled by overcrowding and underfunding to provide full academic support. There were times when I felt like leaving school – when it wasn’t  worth the boredom of just sitting there or the discipline of detention for distracting other students  when I finished work early.


But then IEA came into my life. From attending the Yunasa summer camp to discovering a deeper love of architecture through their Apprenticeship program, IEA fueled an intellectual fire within me that at times had felt like just an ember. They provided me opportunities that I could never have found on my own and that my mother could never pay for. At a time in my life when I needed a mentor, they were there.


But it’s not only intellectual and academic stimulation that these programs provide; it is also a social and emotional foundation necessary to maintain their academic performance. Each and every IEA program builds a community of intellectually curious and academically motivated students to form the emotional and social foundation to push students to their full potential. They are essential to helping young students maintain their motivation for education and ensure that they are excited to continue learning.


There are two areas where I believe IEA makes a real difference in students’ lives: enabling them to find an academic area that inspires them to learn, and building the emotional support system that allows them to succeed. The Institute for Educational Advancement has been and continues to be an integral part of my life. They have been there for every major decision from choosing the right high school to deciding to go to Harvard. I know that I am the person I am today because of them.

Niles Owens - Pipeline

Pipeline had a way of breaking things down more than my teachers had the opportunity or time to do. The program either offered extra help, or gave new information sooner than I would have gotten it in school. Because of that, I had a definite advantage in math, arts, and  the SAT’s. It definitely gave me the opportunity to get more attention with teachers who were experts in their field. I remember the SAT Prep instructor helped improve my score over 200 points. He broke things down and helped me understand how the exam is scored and even what the graders look for in the writing portion. This helped me to understand that even if I’m good at something, it never hurts to have someone else help you improve something that you may already be good at.


However, nothing was more memorable than the college tours. The classes were fun and always informative, but the college tours helped put everything together. I hadn’t had much exposure to college campuses until taking the trips with the Pipeline program. I can’t put into words how eye-opening of an experience those were for my friends and I. Some schools that I had not previously considered became strong contenders for enrollment and others that were contenders may have been removed from my list based off those tours.


I think that programs like this help gifted students in public schools by providing the additional help to stay focused in a setting where their needs aren’t as nurtured as they probably should be. It’s easy for a young person to get discouraged, but they can also be uplifted when they are put around like-minded individuals and instructors who can give them additional attention.

Jocelyn Shen - EXPLORE

I learned from my research experience in the EXPLORE program with Dr. Van Savage that research requires both perseverance and passion. Often, I would spend hours and hours working on a single function in the data analysis process without even knowing if the analysis was going to prove useful. This year, while working on classifying animal and plant networks, it took weeks to collect the angiographic images, generate a large enough dataset, and clean the data.


Despite how challenging and time-consuming the research was, I learned so much and truly enjoyed it. Dr. Savage helped me fully discover my passion in interdisciplinary computer science and biology research. I improved my coding skills, applied knowledge I gained in class to real data, and learned how to present my findings more effectively. These skills have helped me better communicate my ideas to other people.


Throughout the project, I constantly came up with new ideas and questions that I could ask Dr. Savage, and he further fueled my creativity and drive. Through Dr. Savage’s mentorship, I became fascinated by the way nature abides to mathematical laws and the predictive power of new computing technologies. I became eager to learn more about the interrelatedness of biology and computer science, and I developed skills that I will be using for the rest of my life.

Ida Hempel - Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship

Initially, IEA’s primary impact was to enable me to grow up in a high school environment where I could gain the fullest sense of myself, intellectually and personally – and, in turn, attend a college that afforded me the same set of opportunities. In high school, I could explore my interests in technology and environmental science without constraint, and my summer Apprenticeship enabled me to understand how one might balance a career in business and social impact. Ultimately, I have built a career and graduate school program around these themes, for which IEA provided the resources, guidance and motivation.


Along the way, however, IEA has afforded me so much more – in the scholars and the IEA team, I’ve found a community of friends, role models and mentors (including a college roommate from my CDB cohort, and a wonderful Bay Area alum community); from the annual Caroline D. Bradley conferences, a set of tools and frameworks with which to think about my path and the paths of others; and from the very generosity underpinning the scholarship’s existence, a deep sense of gratitude and a commitment to being able to give back in a way that means as much.


Has IEA impacted your life? Share your story by filling out the form below.