Ignite Grants spark new ways of learning, thinking, doing

Today, Remake Learning is proud to announce the recipients of its 2020 Ignite Grants, who are receiving $5,000 each to imagine, build, or re-energize an innovative learning project or program.

With $100,000 in total investment, Ignite Grants will help schools, organizations, and educators in eight counties in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia launch or continue a wide range of initiatives. Funded projects will modernize facilities, explore issues of racial and social justice, build deeper mentoring relationships, and introduce more students to science, robotics, and engineering in culturally relevant ways. Funded projects are expected to impact over 4,000 students in the next year.

What makes a project innovative?

Ignite Grants are designed to provide catalytic funding to programs that address the needs of young people who are navigating rapid social and technological change, staring down global challenges, and preparing for a workforce vastly different than generations past.

Ignite Grants support the small moves that add up to big change. Funded projects help prepare today’s learners for tomorrow, by offering learning opportunities that are hands-on, collaborative, and interdisciplinary.

Specifically, Ignite Grants fund projects that: 

  • Activate skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration
  • Empower learners to identify and solve problems that affect them and their communities
  • Challenge learners to question, examine, and dissect social systems, and develop the confidence to address and deconstruct inequalities
  • Connect all the places learners live, work, and play
  • Encourage learners to explore and play and support them to follow their curiosity using varied tools (including, but not limited to, technology)
  • Derive from deep and caring relationships between learners and their families, peers, educators, and mentors
  • Connect learners to their communities and help them develop cross-cultural understandings
  • Engage, uplift, and involve learners impacted by poverty, learners of color, learners in rural areas, girls in STEM, and/or learners with exceptionalities

Funded projects build on more than a decade of work undertaken by Remake Learning and its network of more than 500 schools, libraries, museums, nonprofits, and other youth-serving organizations to ensure all learners can access engaging, relevant, and equitable learning experiences designed to help them thrive.

Thank you to The Grable Foundation for their generous sponsorship of these grants.

List of Funded Projects

Brothers and Sisters Emerging, Youth Connections: Middle schoolers will be paired with a mentor and facilitator, who will teach them to document their communities through photography and speak directly to neighborhood businesses and organizations. Learners will develop interview and advocacy skills and explore questions around community and social systems.

California Area School District, What Color Do You Hear?: Students will first learn to design, 3D-print, and construct a violin and bow. Then, they’ll learn to play the instruments together and work with a sound therapy software developed at MIT, learning how sound impacts brain function and emotional response.

City Charter High School, Green Thumbs in Gray Spaces: This student-led advocacy project will use the arts to raise community awareness of the inequity of green space access. The initiative will be led by the Student Social Justice Club and was inspired by Covestro’s YouthQuake. Their project includes several community partners and has leveraged small seed funding to scale their idea for Ignite.

The Community Foundation of Western PA & Eastern OH, Genius Corps: Through a partnership with Grove City Middle School and a nearby university, students will travel to university labs and work with graduate students and college professors to experience upper-level, hands-on science and foster their scientific and career curiosity.

Derry Area School District, Early Childhood Play: Young learners in Westmoreland County will gain access to a free, play-focused program.  Research-based social-emotional outcomes will inform professional development for educators and in-home childcare providers, and provide support to parents and caregivers.

Hill District Consensus Group (HDCG), Future of Work & Environmental Justice: In partnership with New Sun Rising, HDCG will build its capacity to help youth and adults transitioning to green and technology career sectors. In a separate partnership with Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus, HDCG will pilot a program to help Hill District youth build an understanding of sustainability and environment, improve attitudes toward social responsibility, and increase cognitive learning skills.

Homewood Children’s Village, Science Genius: Homewood Children’s Village will partner with Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time, Chatham University, and #HipHopEd to bring the Science Genius initiative to a cohort of Pittsburgh organizations. Science Genius uses the power of hip-hop music and culture to introduce youth, who are traditionally disengaged in science classrooms, to a passion for science.

Intermediate Unit 1 at Waynesburg Campus, Student Business: Students will exceptionalities will learn marketing, woodworking, and business skills through a project-based, student-run enterprise.

The Legacy Arts Project, Anime-ting’ tha Hood: Black and brown teaching artists will work directly with students from Wilkinsburg, Woodland Hills, and Pittsburgh Public School Districts to integrate black culture into the popular TV, comic book, and art style of anime. Educators are of African descent, knowledgeable in digital animation, and currently working in Pittsburgh as artists and teaching artists.

New Castle Area School District, KinderCoders: Teachers at the Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center will receive training, curriculum design ideas, and technology tools to enhance their K-2 coding program.

Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh, Reading, Racial Equity, and Relationships: A cohort of organizations will deepen their community of practice within early literacy and racial justice and procure books for children.

Pauline Auberle Foundation, 412 Youth Zone Learning Innovation Program: The program will install a permanent makerspace, leveraging partnerships with Prototype and Center for Creative Reuse. The makerspace will work with cohorts of young people, helping them learn about running a business and making products.

Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship, Farm-to-Table System: The school will build an outdoor learning space and greenhouse and offer programming in food scarcity, insecurity, and other related areas of structural inequality, such as environmental racism and classism. Programming will explore how these realities disproportionately affect people from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, but also empower learners to find ways to potentially address these issues personally and in their communities.

The Pittsburgh Contingency, Voices Against Violence STEAM: This new initiative will offer computer science programming to youth in the Beltzhoover/South Hilltop region of Pittsburgh, focusing on the creative and career opportunities available within technology, computer programming, engineering, and robotics.

Pittsburgh Learning Commons, Mycofuturism: Wilkinsburg teens will dive into the world of fungi and mushrooms, drawing on ecology, social systems, and fine art. Learners will explore related applications in medicine, waste remediation, and green careers through at-home kits and in-person workshops tentatively scheduled for 2021.

Marshall County School District, Computer Science Programming: Sherrard Middle School will receive some of its first computer science programming in the form of a trusted hardware tool, the Sphero.

Allegheny Valley School District, Air Filters for Seniors: In partnership with ABC CREATE, Springdale Jr. Sr. High students will work with CREATE Lab robots to make air filters for local seniors, helping address the air pollution caused by a nearby industrial facility.

Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Living Wall: The school will design and build a living wall, creating more spaces for students to feel inspired and centered within their learning. The wall will also increase the experience of sensory environments for students, building off of the success of the school’s greenhouse.

Wilkinsburg Public Library, Space Refresh: In the spirit of Blueprint for Learning, the library will update their 1970s space to an open-concept model, where learners, families, and groups can meet, move around, and utilize the space to their needs. They’ll also purchase computer stations for 10 public access computers, adaptable to the needs of small children, teens, and adults.