A Guide for Empowering ALL Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Own Pathway to Power

Ian Rowe

Over the course of a career spanning the fields of education, politics, philanthropy, and media, Ian Rowe has looked at the question, “How can we help our children succeed?” from nearly every angle of contemporary society. He spent ten years running a network of charter schools in the heart of the South Bronx, where he was responsible for educating thousands of kids. Time and again, he found that these young people were being limited by the adults in their lives, who perpetuated the self-defeating narrative that external forces controlled their destiny.

While serving in the White House, Rowe observed how top-down, well-intentioned programs like No Child Left Behind could produce unintended consequences that failed to improve student outcomes. A stint at MTV convinced him of just how powerful popular messaging can be in shaping developing minds. And an executive role at the Gates Foundation made him realize that spending billions of dollars on education made little difference if zero resources were spent on emphasizing the importance of family structure. 

Drawing from this diverse background, Ian Rowe formulated an effective philosophy for connecting with the hearts and minds of young people—particularly young people from underprivileged communities—and setting them on a course for life success and satisfaction. His approach is encapsulated in the acronym FREE., which stands for Family, Religion, Education, and Entrepreneurship. Rowe has found that these four principles, when communicated properly, inspire in students a spirit of agency—a sense that they have the power to achieve great things and live successful lives. His “boots on the ground” experience has convinced him that helping kids believe in themselves and teaching them how to make important choices responsibly must become priorities in schools across the country.

In Agency, Ian Rowe expands on his timely message, shares his compelling story, and digs into the research surrounding the principles of FREE. Along the way, he lays out a bipartisan vision for how we can empower members of the next generation of Americans—particularly those born with the fewest advantages—to realize their full potential.