What could the world of learning look like in 10 or even 20 years?
The team behind Remake Learning’s Moonshot Grants began asking that question at the start of this year. Their goal was to fund ambitious new ideas that could make that preferred future come true.
But rather than require applicants to prove the likely outcomes of their ideas, they requested the opposite: Think boldly, they said. Try something completely new. Use the signals of change we see around us to dream up powerful, collaborative projects that haven’t been tried before. Along the way, center equity and justice to ensure that all students will benefit from the learning of tomorrow.
After announcing grants of nearly $500,000 in their first phase of giving last spring, Remake Learning has announced a second round of funding this week totaling another $590,000.
Among the recipients: 1Hood Media will develop the 1Hood Media Academy for Youth Art and Activism. In the spirit of the Moonshot Grants, this project will challenge traditional notions of positive youth development, cultural literacy, and student success through creative and activist expression.
The program will be participant-led, giving young people a meaningful voice in shaping what and how they’ll be learning. 1Hood’s co-founder and CEO, Jasiri X, says the organization has welcomed young people into their decision-making process for several years, and it’s a central aspect of this new project.
“Young folks are going to come up with their own creative ideas. They’re not going to do things the way that we do it,” he says. But those valuable, creative ideas will go unheard unless young people are “actually helping to make the decisions on the direction of the programming.”
Another funded project: Butler Area School District will launch a project called “Growing a Green Future.” In Butler, some students live in rural areas and are actively involved in farming, while others live in the city of Butler—which is effectively a food desert.
In order to bring fresh food to the entire community while teaching environmental science, farming and business skills, and community cooperation, the Growing a Green Future program will use acreage at one of Butler’s rural elementary schools for farming fresh produce. Students across the district will collaborate on growing and selling the food.
“We have a very big geographic area in our district and being able to have multiple buildings working towards the same common goal for our community’s good is really exciting,” says Butler superintendent Dr. Brian White.
The round-two grant recipient organizations will join the Moonshot cohort and meet with one another to further develop their ideas through professional learning and community building. Though each organization will be building their own project, the group will collaborate and encourage each other to think boldly.
Since 2020 began, “educators have been surviving and trying to thrive, and people have done the best that they can with what they have,” says Dorie Taylor, Moonshot Grants project manager and co-producer of Remake Learning Days Across America.
“Thinking boldly at this time may be asking a lot. It might be scary. It might be exhilarating,” Taylor says. But it’s also deeply necessary if we’re going to make the most of this moment.
The grantees tell Remake Learning they feel ready to create something powerful.
“It’s cool to begin to say, ‘OK, well let’s shoot for the moon’ and kind of see what happens,” Jasiri X says. “As far as the young people we interact with, we feel like we can create this safe space where artists and activists feel they can be their full selves. What will come out of that is the creativity and the new thinking that we need to get out of the situation we’re in right now.”
Support for Moonshot Grants is generously provided by The Grable Foundation, Henry L. Hillman Foundation, The Richard King Mellon Foundation, and The Benedum Foundation.
1Hood Media Academy, Youth Art and Activism
Their Bold Idea: Drive student success and social justice through youth-determined programming that spans years, rather than a few isolated sessions
This pilot project, centered in the Black community and created by, for, and with Black secondary school-age youth, will help learners achieve self-determined goals for social change through artistic expression and activism. The project will employ a model that can be replicated by subsequent cohorts and others seeking self-empowerment, authentic creative self-articulation, and social justice.
A+ Schools, Space is the Place: Transforming Perry High School Through Space Career Exploration
Their Bold Idea: Launch an explorative, community-based, and career-driven curriculum
Building upon their first-hand research with students and teachers, A+ Schools will partner with Perry High School, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Moonshot Museum, to offer real-world and relevant coursework and new opportunities for students to earn college/workforce credits and engage in paid work experience. They will hire a project manager to lead this collaborative work on-site.
Assemble, Ramp Up Fellowship
Their Bold Idea: Leverage educator training as a driver of for-community, by-community youth development
As a partnership between Assemble and the Legacy Arts Project, the Ramp Up Fellowship will help 18 to 24-year-olds from the Garfield and Homewood communities of Pittsburgh become youth educators. The fellowship will prioritize enrollment of BIPOC/LGBTQIA folks who have a GED or high school diploma, some post-secondary schooling, or an incomplete college degree. The fellowship will offer training from CodeJoy, ELIE Circle, the Creative Learning Network, and others, simultaneously preparing fellows to work with youth from their own communities and uplifting them as they uplift youth across the city.
Butler Area School District, Growing a Green Future
Their Bold Idea: Combine agriculture, entrepreneurship, and community involvement to connect the students, staff, and families from different schools
This intra-district initiative will bring together a rural school’s agricultural curriculum and production abilities with an urban school’s community store and resource hub to create a system for growing, distributing, and selling fresh, local produce while engaging students from both schools in agriculture, entrepreneurship, and other STEAM-based learning. Community Advisory Boards will also guide and contribute to planning and related projects at each school.
Clairton City School District, Systemic Integration of Behavioral Health
Their Bold Idea: Offer comprehensive, integrated social-emotional learning to support skill-building and success for both students and educators
Through a partnership between Clairton City School District, the Allegheny Health Network, Awaken Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Health & Human Performance Lab, this project will provide students and educators with comprehensive training and skill-building in social-emotional learning (SEL). On-site behavioral health educators and professionals, including two licensed therapists and a clinical lead, will teach SEL skills, integrating fundamental lessons into the K-12 schedule in order to expose all students and faculty. Staff will also develop unique supports like family seminars, classroom consults, and two “chill rooms” for students. Taken together, these efforts will help both educators and students be more present in the classroom, ready to learn, and able to handle daily stressors that impede academic success.
Homewood Children’s Village, The Village Learning Hub (LVH)
Their Bold idea: Provide more equitable access to education through homeschooling
The Village Learning Hub will build on the organization’s current remote learning hub to help interested families launch a home learning program that aligns with the principles of microschooling and flexischooling, offers personalized learning paths and inquiry-based experiences, and incorporates culturally relevant pedagogy. A full-time VLH educator will help families develop their child’s state-submitted learning plan and objectives.
SLB Radio Productions, Using Student-Created Media to Assess, Document & Share Learning in a Personalized, Culturally-Responsive Manner
Their Bold Idea: Radically rethink traditional evaluation and assessment
This new program will introduce a daily “use and share what you’re learning” period for students at MACS Middle School. Students will visit SLB’s Youth Media Center for 80 minutes/day, and working both individually and together, will sharpen, apply, discuss, extend, and share what they have learned in the classroom. SLB will also provide mentors, equipment, and access to out-of-school-time learning, as desired. A Youth Advisory Panel will meet regularly to provide ideas and feedback on the program and will plan and host culminating events.
The Citizen Science Lab (TCSL), BioDome Experimental Libraries
Their Bold Idea: Offer learn-anywhere STEM opportunities to underserved communities
This project will create 10 BioDome Experimental Libraries in underserved neighborhoods across Pittsburgh. Inspired by the free community library model, BioDomes will contain various one-time or repetitive-use STEM-based kits. Students can use the kits to explore various concepts in biology, anatomy, microbiology, microscopy, electronics, circuitry, and computer science. The BioDomes will be supported by community members, who can either create and share their own at-home experiments, refill the supplies needed for current BioDome experiments, or purchase new science kits to place in the BioDomes.
Wheeling Country Day School (WCDS), Teaching to the Edges
Their Bold Idea: Abandon the “teach to the average learner” concept
This pilot program will expand on the immersion and tutoring WCDS currently provides to students with learning differences through its Center for Multisensory Learning. The school will work in partnership with Carlow University, Bethany College, and the Augusta Levy Learning Center to offer individualized services for all students, regardless of ability. They will utilize improved assessments, learning profiles, and new technology to disrupt traditional notions of special education, tiered intervention, and gifted learning.
Author: Melissa Rayworth, Journalist