(NBC News) NBC's fourth annual Education Nation summit is under way in New York City.
Hundreds of students and teachers around the country are joining policy leaders to discuss "what it takes" for young people to succeed in school and beyond.
Inside the New York Public Library, one of the city's oldest corner stones for learning, students and teachers are talking about the skills young people need to excel in the future.
"They are growing up into a very different world than we grew up in and i think it's our responsibility to prepare them for those challenges," said teacher Doris Milano of Palm Beach County, Florida.
New education standards called the common core are putting greater emphasis on critical thinking and analysis but teachers aren't necessarily ready to implement them.
"It hasn't been a priority for our local government," said teacher Melissa Javinar of Sacramento, California.
Beyond the classroom, students say they need support addressing the problems that distract them from learning.
"You have to worry about are you going to get robbed, are you going to get jumped?" said Newark, New Jersey high schooler Jordon.
Issues like violence, hunger and in Emily Anne Rigal's case, bullying.
"It makes you had to focus in school. You are constantly on the lookout for who is going to pick on you," said Rigal.
She fought back by founding "WeStopHate.org" an anti-bullying website.
Actress America Ferrera recognized her efforts with the peace first award.
Around the country, people not even at this summit are getting involved sharing their own ideas from their smart phones,and social media.
All comments are tracked on the education nation website.
There are thousands of ideas with one goal, to set students up for success.
The education nation summit runs through Tuesday and will call on dozens of industry leaders to talk about what's working and what needs to change.
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