The Tomorrow campaign asked 17 organizations to boldly imagine what smart risks they might take if they had R&D-like funding – not for covering current activities but for pursuing experimental ideas, testing new concepts, and finding powerful ways to move their field toward the future of learning.
We are pleased to announce 17 Tomorrow Grants totaling nearly $1.43 million dollars over the next twelve months to fund these groundbreaking projects.
Since COVID-19 first disrupted our schools and other sites of learning, heroic work has been done on behalf of students and their families, and meaningful collaborations have been forged. During this uniquely challenging back-to-school season, this ambitious new programming funded by these grants focuses on collaboration: Each recipient organization will partner with additional schools and organizations across our region to broaden engagement and benefit learners, their families, and their educators.
These grants are made possible through support from The Grable Foundation.
List of Funded Projects
Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Social Supports for Learning
To support “Making and Celebrating Community,” a partnership between the Allegheny County Family Support Network (FSN) and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP). CMP teaching artists and education staff will train staff at 28 Allegheny County family centers about how to celebrate learning through creating and making, with a focus on the theme “We Are a Community.” FSN staff will then support parents to work with their young children on collaborative projects. A day of celebration at the museum in June 2021 will highlight examples of families’ projects.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Professional Learning for Educators
To support the radical rethinking of traditional models of educator professional learning. The Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) will collaborate with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, CodeJoy, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and a partner representing local industry to design and test new paradigms that are flexible, agile, and created with research-based best practices in mind.
Allies for Children
To support the documentation and sharing of students’ understanding of their futures and the future of learning. Together with 1Hood Media, Allies for Children will engage 80 to 100 middle and high school students from a variety of types of learning institutions and primarily from communities of color to capture their experiences and vision for how learning can evolve and improve. The project will be largely student-led and will culminate in the creation of a short film and media toolkit that will set the stage for a youth-led movement focused on equitable learning opportunities for all students.
Carnegie Institute – Arts Education Collaborative
To support a pathway for teaching artists to become substitute teachers, an effort that benefits students who will have increased access to arts-integrated learning; school districts that will have reliable, well-trained substitute teachers; and teaching artists who will have more reliable and steadier employment. The Arts Education Collaborative (AEC) will lead a team of teaching artists in researching substitute teaching practices in six school districts, documenting the districts’ need for substitutes and requirements for candidates to enter substitute teaching pools. After the practices are documented, the AEC will lead teaching artists in training to prepare them to enter classrooms ready to provide high-quality, standards-aligned, arts-integrated lessons.
Carnegie Institute – Carnegie Science Center
To support the development of a virtual field trip platform that will host live, real-time tours led by content experts of the Carnegie Science Center (CSC) and partner organizations, including other science centers, art and history museums, zoos, and aquaria. Students will have the opportunity to learn about specific science topics, artwork, animals, people, and historical events/periods from content experts and through the exhibits and collections of CSC and participating museum partners.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
To support organizing a cohort of literacy-focused organizations – Family Support Centers (Hilltop and East Liberty), Literacy Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Reading is Fundamental, Trying Together, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development (The Pittsburgh Study) – to meet monthly and assess current literacy initiatives in the Pittsburgh with the overarching goal of developing a broader, shared, impactful vision and an understanding of how the cohort may collectively meet the literacy needs and goals of children in the greater Pittsburgh region.
Carnegie Mellon University – CREATE Lab, Entertainment Technology Center, and the Simon Initiative
To support the collaborative development of an augmented reality authoring system for formal, informal, and professional learning experiences. Using an existing prototype, the Carnegie Mellon team will partner with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, the Cornell and New Kensington-Arnold school districts, and Penn State University’s New Kensington campus to co-design and playtest the applications of this technology. Its potential will be assessed at the learner, educator, and organizational levels.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
To support “Making a Difference,” a collaboration between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Assemble focused on youth voice and staff capacity building. Together these partners will engage youth during afterschool hours to 1) define a personal project that connects making and social justice, and 2) to support them in planning a series of youth-led events at Assemble and the museum for their peers, culminating with a Youth Social Change Expo. Assemble and the museum will also co-create and share a Tip Sheet and an Introductory Guide to Working with and Empowering Youth in informal education spaces.
Consortium for Public Education
To support a Project-Based Learning (PBL) professional development for 20 early career teachers (in years two to four of service) across southwestern Pennsylvania. Using the eight common elements of PBL, the training will be designed to give teachers a chance to test and learn new concepts while not overwhelming them in their early years of practice. Teachers will also be supported to engage business and community partners around the application of PBL to real-world problems. Intermediate Unit 1 will apply for Pennsylvania Department of Education’s approval to award teachers continuing education credits that they may use to obtain their Level 2 certification. Teachers may earn Act 48 credits for these hours as well.
Historical Center of Western Pennsylvania – Heinz History Center
To support Heinz History Center’s work in highlighting empathy to encourage civic learning. The History Center will work with at least 70 of their 125 affiliates (mostly libraries, historical societies, and historical landmarks throughout western Pennsylvania) to identify empathy stories connected to the affiliates’ histories. The project will establish “empathy studios” at 15 affiliate sites – these studios present activities along with empathy stories that will encourage visitors to reflect on the lived experience of those different from them. This is the first major professional learning activity that the History Center has used to connect its affiliates with one another.
Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania
To support “Finding and Igniting Enriching Relationships for Youth,” a new platform where young people can engage in light-touch mentoring opportunities. Students will be able to initiate the process of creating short-term, monitored connections with adults who can provide advice and support on such topics as school work, career exploration, or a shared interest. The platform will also include an interactive digital toolkit with resources that show young people how to harness the power of mentoring and position themselves for success.
Trying Together – Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative
To support a Recess Advocacy Team to champion the importance of recess during the school day. The team will engage with children, families, educators, and decision makers as part of their advocacy efforts, sharing information, best practices, and potential solutions to common challenges. The team’s efforts will focus on a partnership with the Pittsburgh Public Schools that will include a needs assessment and the creation of a toolkit for children, parents, and teachers who want to serve as recess champions.
To support the creation of an Early Childhood League serving southwestern Pennsylvania. The League will be composed of parents and educators who may be under-represented in traditional advocacy efforts. Trying Together and its partners will provide training on community organizing strategies, communications techniques, and public policy processes, positioning the Early Childhood League to develop and implement its own advocacy plan to support quality childcare, pre-K, and home visiting.
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania – Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST)
Out-of-School Time Learning
To support professional development for 10 out-of-school time (OST) organizations that tests the effectiveness and impact of social-emotional learning (SEL) in OST settings. In consultation with Tom Akiva of the University of Pittsburgh and Annie White of The Fred Rogers Institute, the project will encourage a deep understanding of how OST educators are uniquely positioned to provide rich SEL for youth, closely examining current practices that support SEL, and encouraging intentional focus on improving SEL practice. The professional learning will include young people to ascertain the authenticity of the activity.
University of Pittsburgh – Superintendents Forum
To support the “School Board Leadership College” in affiliation with the Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents and the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the University of Pittsburgh. A cohort of 20 school board members will participate in a two-year long learning opportunity developed by area superintendents and the IOP. Curriculum will be focused on the kind of school board leadership required as the future of learning unfolds in a time of unprecedented change. School board members will meet monthly as a large group (in-person or remotely) for daylong sessions and bi-weekly in smaller groups, remotely.
University of Pittsburgh – School of Education
To support an “Ignite Learning” mentorship program focused on culturally relevant training, critical interrogation of school systems and classroom practice, and professional development for practicing teachers (in-service), education students (pre-service), and university professors. This project will create a tiered system of mentoring with university professors working closely with in-service teachers, helping them to critically examine schooling as a system, the schools where they work, and their classroom practice. In-service teachers will, in turn, work with pre-service teachers to engage in that same critical examination. Notably, this project will consult with high school students to develop professional learning experiences for educators.
University of Pittsburgh – Center for Urban Education
To support engaging retired black educators as tutors for black students. Black educators will not only support students’ content understanding, but will also serve as guides for students’ critical navigation of school spaces. Educators will help students interrogate their schooling experiences and develop critical consciousness about their lived experiences. In addition to tutoring, retired educators will be paired with Heinz fellows (education professionals doing a yearlong fellowship at the Center for Urban Education) to advise fellows in their work in schools in the Pittsburgh Public School District. Retired educators and fellows will participate in professional learning focused on culturally relevant pedagogy.