MHA Overview

Launched in 2012, MHA Labs is the manifestation of a three-year grassroots movement to radically improve the 21st century skills development of youth and young adults.

MHA Labs is a public/private research and development nonprofit designing products and services for 21st century skills development. With over 400 schools, organizations and workforce programs in its stakeholder base, MHA Labs innovates at the scale and diversity needed to turn promising practices into system solutions.

MHA stands for the means and measure of human achievement. Our stakeholders envision a world where young people are vested with the skills and resources they need, to achieve the personal, family, and community aspirations they want.

In the fall of 2012, fifteen Chicago high school students from Mikva Challenge’s Education Council participated in a design lab to prototype 21st century skill-building products. Over the course of their innovation process, they inadvertently created a brand that could inspire a global skill-building movement. They effortlessly filtered through policy and academic skill constructs to simplify the framework to “HOW HUMANS ACHIEVE”. We are grateful for their clarity and inspiration.


Human Achievement Toolkit

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Our full website,, will be launching soon where all tools will be made freely available.

Our MHA subject matter experts and experienced practitioners design skillbuilding tools, evaluations, and trainings aligned to the 6 Skill Building Blocks. All resources are calibrated for front line practicality. Every product has a “do-ityourself” version that can be printed and assembled using a typical b/w printer.

In addition to MHA Labs custom designed tools, we are sourcing hundreds of external resources for your skillbuilding needs. To make navigation easier, we created a simple tool mapping system where every skill and product is color & icon coded. For example, every tool tagged with a blue “bolt” means it can be used to develop “Planning for Success” skills.


MHA Collective Impact Cities

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An MHA city is one where a large collective of public and private stakeholders align to the Building Block skill standards and assessments.

Chicago, IL
St. Paul, MN
Minneapolis, MN
Your City Here!


Movement Building Stakeholders

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MHA tools are designed for use across constituencies and sectors. Everyone has a role and responsibility in 21st century skills development.

» Youth and their Peers
» Parents & Families
» Teachers & Professors
» Youth Developers
» College & Career Advisors
» Workforce Developers
» Employers


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Personal Mindset icon  Personal Mindset
» Needs minimal supervision to complete tasks.
» Attempts to complete tasks independently before asking for help.
» Follows rules/directions as required by the task/situation.
» Maintains focus on tasks despite internal (e.g., emotional) and/or external distractions.
» Avoids actions that have produced undesirable consequences or results in the past.
» Strives to overcome barriers/set-backs, seeking assistance when needed.
» Adapts approach in response to new conditions or others’ actions.

Planning for Success icon Planning for Success
» Sets and prioritizes goals that reflect a self-awareness of one’s capabilities, interests, emotions, and/or needs.
» Breaks goals into actionable steps.
» Accurately estimates level of effort and establishes realistic timelines.
» Manages time to complete tasks on schedule.
» Applies existing/newly acquired knowledge, skills, and/or strategies that one determines to be useful for achieving goals.
» Monitors progress and own performance, adjusting approach as necessary.
» Demonstrates a belief that one’s own actions are associated with goal attainment.

Social Awareness icon Social Awareness
» Recognizes the consequences of one’s actions.
» Balances own needs with the needs of others.
» Takes into consideration others’ situations/feelings.
» Develops and implements strategies for navigating in different contexts (i.e., manages different patterns of behavior, rules, and norms).

Verbal Communication icon Verbal Communication
» Organizes information that serves the purpose of the message, context, and audience.
» Uses and adjusts communication strategies as needed based on the purpose of the message, context, and audience.
» Signals listening according to the rules/norms of the context and audience.
» Seeks input to gauge others’ understanding of the message.
» Asks questions to deepen and/or clarify one’s understanding when listening to others.

Collaboration icon Collaboration
» Completes tasks as they have been assigned or agreed upon by the group.
» Helps team members complete tasks, as needed.
» Encourages the ideas, opinions, and contributions of others, leveraging individual strengths.
» Provides feedback in a manner that is sensitive to others’ situation/feelings.
» Clarifies areas of disagreement/conflict that need to be addressed to achieve a common goal.
» Seeks to obtain resolution of disagreements/conflicts to achieve a common goal.

Problem Solving icon Problem Solving
» Defines problems by considering all potential parts and related causes.
» Gathers and organizes relevant information about a problem from multiple sources.
» Generates potential solutions to a problem, seeking and leveraging diverse perspectives.
» Identifies alternative ideas/processes that are more effective than the ones previously used/suggested.
» Evaluates the advantages and disadvantages associated with each potential solution identified for a problem.
» Selects and implements best solution based on evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of each potential solution.

To download the full PDF click here.

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