Dr. Gary Michelson and Driving Progress in Education
It All Started With “The Big 5”
Dr. Gary Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson, formed the Michelson 20MM Foundation in 2010 (formerly The Twenty Million Minds Foundation) with one goal in mind: To tackle a broken textbook publishing model controlled by “The Big 5” (the nickname for the major trade book publishing companies in the United States).
The vision was lofty: Create and provide for the use of a comprehensive, digital, higher education textbook library in an open-architecture platform to mitigate students’ expenses and, eventually, replace the costly commoditized textbooks of all high-enrollment general education courses.
In other words, build a new scalable publishing model to provide low-cost or free textbooks.
Dr. Gary Michelson first became involved in this effort when he learned from a group of professors at Santa Ana College, a two-year public institution in Orange County, California, that each term, several bright and qualified students failed to complete their degrees simply because they could not afford the increasingly expensive course textbooks.
After learning that a group of professors were pooling their own money to create a textbook scholarship, Dr. Michelson was inspired to join the cause since he, too, had experienced financial hardships as a college student that pushed him to work up to 2 jobs at a time while in school.
He began by contributing his own funds towards the textbook scholarship, but was committed to finding a more enduring solution to the textbook affordability crisis.
Thus emerged the Twenty Million Minds Foundation, on a mission to increase educational access, foster academic success, and reduce cost obstacles associated with higher education.
Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation working toward equity for underserved and historically underrepresented communities by expanding access to educational and employment opportunities, increasing affordability of educational programs, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for individuals to thrive. To do so, we work in the following verticals: Digital Equity, Intellectual Property, Smart Justice, Student Basic Needs, and Open Educational Resources (OER). Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.
Dr. Gary Michelson has partnered with some of the leading philanthropic and educational organizations in the country, whether it’s the pragmatic and non-partisan philanthropy of the Hewlett Foundation, or General Assembly’s efforts to make educational technology more accessible online.
Meet Our Team
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Director of Programs and Operations
Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives
Open Educational Resources (OER) Fellow
Senior Program Manager, Student Basic Needs
Marketing & Communications Manager
Program Coordinator, OER
Senior Program Manager, Digital Equity
Michelson Institute for IP
Program Manager, OER
Senior Program Manager, Michelson Institute for IP
Kenia Miranda Verdugo
Program Manager, Smart Justice
Textbook Affordability Fellow
Our team consists of like-minded professionals that share Dr. Gary Michelson’s vision, to increase access to education and to improve lives along the way.
Questions about our partnerships and our mission? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!