Senior Program Officer
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Robert Torres, PhD, is a Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation serving on the Next Generation Learning team where he leads two portfolios, one focused on Games for Learning and Assessment and another focused on Proficiency-Based/Anytime, Anywhere Learning Pathways. Before joining the foundation Robert served at the Chief Research Officer at Institute of Play where he co-founded Quest to Learn, a games-based school in New York City. His research at Quest to Learn and on Gamestar Mechanic, a video game designed to support kids development of basic game skills, has focused on the potential game design and games-based environments have in supporting the learners’ cognitive development. Robert has worked as a teacher, school principal and education consultant since 1988. He taught 5th grade as a Teach for America (TFA) teacher, served as a school director as part of TFA teacher induction programs and eventually became President of Teach for America’s National Faculty. As a spin-off of TFA, Robert designed and became principal of The Learning Project One Middle School from 1995 to 1999, a school primarily serving low-income students from New York’s Lower East Side. Since 1999, Robert has focused mostly on school design and currently runs a not for profit, designbydesign, which has designed or supported the creation of over 30 small progressive schools across New York City and Connecticut. designbydesign works with teachers, parents, and community-based organizations to create exemplary learning communities that depart from traditional industrial-era models of schooling. From 1994-1999 Robert wrote and produced a documentary film on the impact of poverty on his Puerto Rican family in New York. The film, Nuyorican Dream, premiered at the Sundance 2000 Film Festival, was acquired by and aired on HBO, and has won numerous awards in the United States and abroad. The documentary offers observations about the legacy of colonialism and the inadequate American inner-city educational system. Robert has a B.A. from Oberlin College, a Masters in policy and school administration from Bank Street College of Education and was a Stanford University Research Fellow. Robert completed a PhD in games and learning at New York University.