ABOUT VICKI ABELES
“AMERICA, THIS IS YOUR WAKE-UP CALL. With both heart and smarts, Vicki Abeles showcases the courageous communities that are rejecting the childhood rat race and reclaiming health and learning. Our kids really need us to listen.”
on ‘Beyond Measure’
For over a decade, Vicki Abeles has been sounding the alarming bell on the urgent need to prioritize kids’ mental health. As our kids today face a growing mental health emergency, so many of us feel powerless to help, but Vicki’s work has shown the power of coming together around stories can inspire real change.
Fueled by a passion to bring childhood, schools, and society to a healthier place, Vicki is a former Wall Street attorney who turned to filmmaking when she noticed that children across the U.S. were struggling with a silent epidemic of school stress, including her own kids. A two-year investigation into America’s education system grew into the 2009 award-winning documentary Race to Nowhere, which uncovers ways our obsessive achievement culture undercuts children’s health, growth, and learning.
Vicki found herself in the spotlight, known by some as “the anti-tiger mother,” as the film ignited a grassroots movement bent on restoring student well-being, transforming education, and redefining success. Through a cutting-edge community distribution model, Race to Nowhere became one of the most watched documentaries ever produced, watched by millions of viewers around the globe. The film continues to resonate with diverse stakeholders today—students, teachers, parents, administrators, and health professionals—who use the film as a tool to spark dialogue and inspire community-driven action.
Vicki’s follow-up film, Beyond Measure, helped to answer a question posed by many she met: “What can we do?” and picks up where Race to Nowhere leaves off, offering a positive picture of what’s possible in education. Her New York Times best-selling book, Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation, is a playbook for change that features examples of communities that have implemented positive changes in their homes and schools inspired by Vicki’s films.
Vicki’s currently in post-production on her latest film, Counted Out: Math in America, which shines a light on one of the primary roots of inequity in our data-driven twenty-first century.
Continuing to bring communities together around the power of stories, Vicki’s work as an Impact Producer for Chasing Childhood and High School 9-1-1 has helped to build new alliances around empowering kids to thrive. She was also an associate producer of the Sundance favorite Miss Representation (2011) and Plastic Man: The Artful Life of Jerry Ross Barrish (2014). Her own children now grown, Vicki hasn’t paused in her passionate crusade to protect children’s health, and sees a once-in-a-generation responsibility and opportunity to transform education post-pandemic as youth face a national mental health crisis. She remains committed to helping individuals and communities recognize their own power in making the changes we all need.
A NOTE FROM OUR FOUNDER
“My own awakening to the toxicity of the achievement race came the way it does to many parents: via years of trying to keep up with it. When my three kids were younger, our family spent weekends together, played in parks, visited museums, gathered around the table most nights for dinner.
But as my kids got older, their lives mutated into a state of busyness and stress that gave our home the air of a corporate command center. And I should know—I was a Wall Street attorney who saw her twelve-year-old daughter working longer hours than I ever did for law school. I decided to pick up a camera to expose this silent epidemic of anxiety, depression and disengagement that has infiltrated our schools, our lives, our culture, our society.
I had no filmmaking experience, so the project was quite an adventure. I drew from many years of working as an attorney to take a stand and become an advocate. But above all, my work has been propelled by the power of people coming together.
I have connected with so many parents, students, teachers, administrators, healthcare professionals, and others across the country who are dedicated to making their schools and communities healthier for everyone. The connection and collaboration that I’ve seen blossom around school communities has shown me that we are stronger together and that collectively we have the power to make real, long-lasting change.”
IN THE NEWS
Since the 2009 release of Race to Nowhere to the current moment of the U.S. Surgeon General declaring a youth mental health emergency, Vicki Abeles has been publicly advocating for healthier homes, schools, and society.
CBS 60 Minutes Mar 1, 2011
Katie Couric interviews Vicki Abeles, director of the documentary “Race to Nowhere,” about the high levels of stress and fatigue in U.S. schools and how bettering school systems could improve the lives of kids and young adults.
“Education: What’s Working, What’s Not, What’s Next” The Commonwealth Club of California, Sept 17, 2013
Vicki Abeles and Jo Boaler discuss the obstacles to far-reaching and widespread change and their view of what’s possible when people put research into practice and bring humanity and sanity back to our schools and our children’s lives.