Learning and Sprouting Together

After more than five years as the steward of Remake Learning, The Sprout Fund shares memories of the past and well wishes for the future.

Last week, I joined a few hundred of my fellow Remake Learning members to celebrate the network’s 10-year anniversary. It was a wonderful moment for us to pause and reflect on all that has transpired since those first conversations that led to the first ideas and hatched the first efforts to rethink and reshape the future of learning in the Pittsburgh region.

The journey from those earliest encounters of just a few collaborators in 2007 to the sprawling network of more than 500 organizations and thousands of people actively engaged has been no small feat for anyone involved. Reaching this milestone is truly remarkable and we congratulate everyone who has contributed to the evolution of Remake Learning.

At the end of September, The Sprout Fund will conclude its stewardship of the network and the Remake Learning Council will lead the network into its next decade. We are honored and humbled to be a part of this story and to have worked with so many inspiring partners along the way. Wrapping up our work, I wanted to share a few highlights from our experiences working with all of you over these past few years.

Kids+Creativity brainstorming at The Sprout Fund, March 2008

Sprout first got involved in 2008 when we hosted a brainstorming session at our office. We had about 30 people dreaming up ideas for how to grow and sustain a funding mechanism for what was then called Kids + Creativity. It was an inspiring session and it gave us some ideas for how we could contribute.

In 2009, we started making our first grants and hosting our first networking events through the Spark program. Over those first few years, we convened cross-sector collaborators and seeded a few dozen small-scale projects, like Message from Me and the Children’s Innovation Project.

Then, in 2012, as the network was really coming to a point of critical mass, we launched an expanded suite of services to support network members. In collaboration with network members at the time, we developed a supportive infrastructure of network services focused on convening people around a shared mission, vision, and values, catalyzing new and innovative learning programs, and communicating on behalf of the network in the local community and in the national conversation about learning.

Over the past five years, we came to work every day to help build the network, expand its reach, and respond to emerging opportunities and challenges.

We launched remakelearning.org, establishing a homebase for the network on the web and showcasing local learning innovation to the whole world.

We hosted more than 100 events to convene to create space for network members to seed collaborations, exchange knowledge, and explore new topics.

We catalyzed nearly 300 innovative learning projects and programs, granting $2.6 million to help educators create new, relevant, and engaging learning experiences for children and youth throughout the region like the Pittsburgh Galleries Project at Avonworth, or the Teen Art Cooperative at the Mattress Factory, and the Architecture Learning Network.

We sponsored more than 160 events to engage community members in new and innovative learning experiences like the original EdCamp Pittsburgh in 2013 or the Media Empowerment Student Summit in 2015.

We helped send more than 150 network members as Remake Learning delegations to conferences, like when four students from South Fayette took the stage at the 2014 Digital Media and Learning Conference in Boston, or when we partnered with the team from the Children’s Museum MAKESHOP and MakerEd to present on the intersection of making and learning at SXSWedu.

As stewards of the network, we worked to build connections with national and global movements for learning innovation and gain a place for our region at the table.

In 2012, we represented our network at the first meeting of Education Innovation Clusters hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. Later, we partnered with Digital Promise to host the EdClusters Convening in Pittsburgh in 2014.

In 2013, we secured investment in Remake Learning by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, establishing a connection to the global Mozilla Hive Learning Networks.

In 2014, we joined Chicago, Dallas, and Washington D.C. as part of the national Cities of Learning campaign to help take Connected Learning experiences citywide.

We’ve also had the opportunity to partner with network members to dive deeply into key topics and lead special initiatives to tackle important challenges.

In 2013, together with APOST and the Mentoring Partnership, we launched the Digital Corps, training more than 80 digital literacy coaches to bring more technology learning opportunities to out-of-school programs.

We worked with dozens of partners and hundreds of network members to explore how digital badges could be used to recognize learning wherever it happens. In 2014, we brought together more than 400 people, including 100 students, to begin a community conversation about digital badges at the Pittsburgh Learning Pathways Summit. In 2015, we hosted a forum for Pittsburgh employers to explore how they might use digital badges and other alternative assessments for workforce development and hiring.

In 2015, we produced the Remake Learning Playbook to share our approach to building collaborative innovation networks, including the theory and practice of putting networks into action.

In 2016, We partnered with the Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Citiparks, and the Department of Innovation & Performance to lead Rec2Tech Pittsburgh and demonstrate how city rec centers could become public assets for modern learning.

We’ve learned a lot through our experience as the steward of Remake Learning and we’re excited to apply what we’ve learned building this network to help others do the same.

In 2016, we helped communities across the country organize local stakeholders for the launch of LRNG. This year, we’ve worked with CareerConnectED in Springfield, Ohio and the Triangle Learning Network in North Carolina to help other communities build effective network for collaborative innovation.

While Sprout’s time as the steward of the Remake Learning network is coming to an end this month, we remain a committed and active part of the network. We’d like to thank the generous supporters who have enabled us to do this work, especially leading supporters the Grable Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, as well as additional supporters the Benedum Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, Chevron, Comcast, Google, the Heinz Endowments, the Hillman Foundation, the McCune Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Foundation.

Remake Learning has always been a collaborative effort. In that spirit, we take this moment to celebrate what we’ve all done together and to thank all of the members and partners we worked with along the way. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve as the stewards of the network. We’re proud to be a part of your community.

Here’s to more collaboration and innovation in the years ahead!

Published September 22, 2017

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