The pandemic has taught us a lot. It has forced us to reassess how, when, and where learning takes place. It has proved, once and for all, that we can’t return to a status quo that never really worked. And, it has shown us that we must center justice, think boldly, and test new ideas in order to build a better education system.
In short, we must shoot for the moon!
What projects are about to take flight?
Building off this momentum, Moonshot Grants from Remake Learning are designed to fuel big thinking, provide the tools needed for creative curriculum and growth, and give educators an opportunity to test new, novel, and experimental programs.
Remake Learning received 90 applications for dynamic projects that dared to reimagine our educational traditions, structures, and systems. And today, we’re thrilled to announce the seven schools, organizations, and partnerships across southwestern Pennsylvania and north-central West Virginia that have been awarded Moonshot Grants.
Each with its own focus and goals, these selected programs seek to improve education through transformative problem-solving, creative programming, modern learning values, and research-backed practices.
“Moonshot Grants fuel the fire for visionary ideas to become a reality,” says Tyler Samstag, Remake Learning Network Director. “All of the recipients are building a foundation for a better educational environment that prioritizes equity and opens the door to innovative practices.”
Bible Center Church – Oasis Farm & Fishery, Learning Village Model (LVM)
Their Bold Idea: Leverage lived overlaps between racial and environmental justice to immerse youth in community-based, experiential learning and leadership
The LVM initiative will focus on Black learners from low-income families, offering them a multifaceted program that combines project-based learning, U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, apprenticeship, mentorship, farming, Black culinary heritage, and more. LVM will provide a lifelong learning environment for local youth, ultimately preparing them for environmental leadership at a national level and contributing to a more just future for Homewood and the region.
California Area School District, Redefining the Path, Place, and Pace for Learning
Their Bold Idea: Launch a personalized learning pilot that directly engages learners and develops a unique learning plan for every participating student
The district will adopt universal use of individualized educational programs (IEP) within the pilot student group. Rather than reserving IEPs for students with exceptionalities or disabilities, the district will document engagement, progress, and success for every student. Drawing on Montessori curriculum and global instructional sources, they will set personalized goals for each learner, foster a team approach to students’ education, and ultimately help each learner discover and define their best way to learn.
Cornell School District, Mapping Professional Learning Pathways for Educational Transformation
Their Bold Idea: Source long-term professional learning for teachers from the community
The district will totally rethink professional learning through a grassroots approach. They plan to engage local community members and experts to develop professional learning pathways for teachers. Pathways will be student-centered—built around the specific and unique needs of learners—justice-focused, and long-term. A far cry from one-off professional development days, teachers will commit to a learning pathway an entire schoolyear, diving deeply into subject matter and equity work.
Duquesne University, Mak(er)ing Math FABulous: Using a Fabrication Lab Setting to Enhance Students’ Experiences in Mathematics
Their Bold Idea: Rethink traditional math curriculum through making
In an era of integrated learning, math often remains siloed. Duquesne University will challenge this reality by building on their partnership with Intermediate Unit 1 and testing ideas that have emerged from their Fab Labs. They will infuse mathematics curriculum with personalized academic, cultural, and socio-emotional competencies to create meaningful experiences that empower students to be decision-makers in their own learning.
Hatch, Partners in Play (PIP)
Their Bold Idea: Embed a fully play-based curriculum in kindergarten and first grade classrooms
The power of play in early learning has long been known to educators, but it often remains at the sidelines of formal learning spaces. Hatch’s project will draw on established concepts to establish a true play-based curriculum in elementary classrooms at Faison Elementary School. Their work will coincide with independently funded secondary partnerships and the hiring of an expert Play Resident, all of which will enable the exploration of play in a variety of contexts and ensure the results of PIP will be replicable throughout the region.
West Virginia University, Mobile Science Adventure School (SAS)
Their Bold Idea: Bring the transformational power of outdoor learning to isolated learners
As an established program, SAS has successfully developed an engaging and inspirational experiential learning curriculum that introduces learners to STEM through the outdoors. Their success, however, has been limited to learners in the program’s relatively urban home county. Now, they will reimage their program, challenging their own standards and expectations, to create a more mobile, flexible, and adaptable version. This will increase program access to learners in rural communities and those from low-income families, as well as BIPOC, LGBTQ+ learners, and learners with disabilities.
Wilkinsburg Public Library, Family Satellite Libraries
Their Bold idea: Bring books to the people and reimagine the rigid library model
Inspired by the past year of transformation, this project will radically alter the library’s operations and rethink the traditional library system. The library will establish satellite branches at local childcare centers, thereby reducing barriers to library access and giving families direct control over their library experience. This new model prioritizes flexibility and the idea of community-driven learning and libraries.
What challenges will Moonshot Grants help educators overcome?
Schools face a variety of obstacles that Moonshot Grants are designed to overcome.
“Our education systems faced hurdles before the pandemic, but these roadblocks were only heightened as educators pivoted to virtual or hybrid learning models,” said Remake Learning’s Moonshot Grant Manager Dorie Taylor. “This funding not only tackles challenges but inspires a kind of thinking that many students have never experienced before.”
There’s no better time to introduce forward-thinking and establish the building blocks of a better future. These projects will catalyze exceptional learning methods and unleash new opportunities to reshape learning, support educators, and pursue experimental actions.
The groundbreaking journey continues.
This is just the beginning. Schools, districts, and education nonprofits are invited to shoot for the moon in round two of Remake Learning’s grantmaking. Another half-million dollars will be awarded in September 2021. Applicants must first attend an informational workshop, scheduled for June 29, July 22, and August 5, 2021, and be listed in the Remake Learning network directory. Workshops will help applicants better understand the RFP process and shape proposal ideas. Open office hour sessions will also be available throughout the submission process to answer additional questions, though attendance is not required.
Proposals will be accepted June 7 through August 22, 2021.