Many students see little connection between their school work and the outside world but for our children, connections are visible and valuable. School is no longer a string of disconnected classrooms but a school-wide economy for students to manage. Consequently, their roles change dramatically. No longer are they 8am – 3pm desk jockeys, but rather students are tasked to apply content area learning to real life. They don’t just learn about decimals and percentages, they use them in the bank, marketplace and in running their own businesses as private and social entrepreneurs. They don’t just learn about words and sentence structure, they fashion opinions and submit them for publication in the local newspapers or present their arguments during in class conflict resolution disputes. When these students are presented with authentic problems to solve, they are intrinsically motivated to find answers. Instruction becomes more rigorous and relevant. In traditional schools, success is defined in narrow academic terms; so is failure. We transform schools into institutions of hope by connecting youth to meaningful work and making them feel useful.