Summer Dreamers at PPS / photo: Ben Filio

Summer Dreamers at PPS / photo: Ben Filio

Seeking Equity: Sunanna’s Favorites from the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh

Remake Learning is a network that ignites engaging, relevant, and equitable learning practices in support of young people navigating rapid social and technological change. When HundrED decided to shine a spotlight on education innovations in the Pittsburgh region, I knew they would find powerful education practices. But even I was surprised by the quantity and quality of submissions, and their alignment to Remake Learning’s mission.

When you explore the 82 innovations submitted to the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh, it’s clear that educators in the Pittsburgh region are activating learning in service of equity. It’s my belief that innovation and equity are two sides of the same coin. Truly innovative approaches must be grounded in the aim of achieving equity. And if we’re going to realize an equitable future, we need to do so through the paradigm shift that innovation offers. It was tough to pick favorites from these 82 submissions, because so many of them fit this definition.

Here are my favorites from the HundrED Spotlight submissions:

Many newly-arrived young immigrants and refugees need extra support in order to flourish in their new surroundings. The Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education partners closely with schools and immigrant-led community organizations to provide out-of-school academic, emotional, and social support.

Auberle’s 412 Youth Zone provides a healing environment for youth transitioning out of foster care or experiencing homelessness, offering learning and creativity supports on their journey to adulthood.

Girls of Steel is an all-girls competitive robotics team that exemplifies female success in robotics in order to inspire participants in the pursuit of STEM.

Young people in Pittsburgh imagined and designed the Global Minds Initiative, an after-school program where participants create inclusive spaces to combat intolerance and foster intercultural friendships and understanding.

Justice Scholars supports the brilliance of students at one of Pittsburgh’s high schools by connecting them to the largest local University through a lens of social justice.

While children are developing crucial life skills at child care or in the classroom, they can struggle to communicate what they did “at school” to the adults in their lives. Message from Me is a free app that helps facilitate conversations between young learners and their caring adults at home.

When it’s hard for neuro-atypical learners to connect with their peers, it can be easier to talk to a robot about it. The PEERbot helps children ages 2-7 communicate, socialize, develop, and grow.

A team of graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center created Project Prism, a game that helps neurotypical learners empathize with those on the autism spectrum by playing through an allegorical story.

As Pittsburgh’s population becomes more diverse, it becomes increasingly important to help children celebrate their cultural heritage while seeing themselves as the future of the city. SOY Pittsburgh helps bi-lingual preK-5th graders develop pride in their identity as Latinos and cement their confidence as the future of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is fighting summer learning loss through the Summer Dreamers Academy, a no-cost premiere summer program that provides the academic benefits of summer camp alongside the fun of summer camp.

The Mon Valley School has designed a model to inspire special educators to rethink, redesign, and re-envision what special education is in order to realize every student’s potential.

In Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, The Future of Fashion is helping girls ages 8-16 rethink beauty, health, hair, and fashion by combining maker activities like sewing with panel discussions featuring local female African-American entrepreneurs.

The Queen’s Gambit Chess Institute was founded by a female high school student to help young people tackle real-world issues through the lens of chess strategy—with just a board and pieces, youth are given access to a world of possibility.

This list is powerful evidence that educators across southwestern Pennsylvania are being intentional about using innovation as a vehicle for equity. You can explore all 82 submissions to the Pittsburgh HundrED Spotlight here.