$800,000 in Pittsburgh education grants revealed at celebratED

Photo: The Dilworth World Drummers with emcee DS Kinsel wowed the audience. Photo by Tracy Certo.

This story first appeared on NEXTpittsburgh, which publishes Kidsburgh.

Pittsburgh’s education community was celebratED in a big way last night at the O’Reilly Theater, which was packed with teachers and others involved in kids’ learning. The event honoring educators was presented by The Grable Foundation.

A creative and innovative program opened with an impressive performance by the Dilworth World Drummers, which brought the crowd to its feet. The fun continued with an exercise from Attack Theatre that involved the entire audience. Many folks took to the stage for comments throughout the evening, from Lasse Leponiemi from HundrED, who came in from Finland, to dozens of local educators and leaders. The entertaining DS Kinsel emceed.

Remake Learning’s celebratED event at the O’Reilly Theater on Sept. 23. Photo by Tracy Certo

Among the announcements:

Remake Learning announced $800,000 in grants enabling 16 local schools and nonprofits to redesign classrooms into futuristic learning spaces.

“Where children learn has a powerful effect on how they learn,” said Sunanna Chand, director of Remake Learning, which has facilitated more than 150 classroom transformations in the Pittsburgh region since 2007. “Through these grants, we’re bringing educators together with architects and designers. Together they’ll exchange knowledge and expertise as they design new kinds of classrooms, workshops and community spaces for learning.”

These Blueprint for Learning grants of $50,000 for each of the 16 selected organizations represent the largest single investment in learning space design in the history of Remake Learning. Blueprint for Learning was developed in partnership with the National Design Alliance, Reimagine America’s Schools and the American Architectural Foundation, and is funded by the Grable, Benedum and Hillman Foundations.

At the event last night, the education nonprofit also welcomed Lasse Leponiemi, co-founder and executive director of HundrED. This Finnish nonprofit has brought Remake Learning’s innovations to the world stage by naming Pittsburgh a HundrED spotlight city.

Remake Learning’s Ani Martinez interacting with people during an exercise at celebratED. Photo by Tracy Certo.

This week, educators and researchers from 20 U.S. cities are gathering in Pittsburgh to attend a two-day summit of Education Innovation Clusters (EdClusters) hosted by Digital Promise, a nonprofit that aims to accelerate innovation in education for all learners. EdClusters are local ecosystems that bring together educators, entrepreneurs, funders, researchers and other community stakeholders to support transformative teaching and learning in their region. Digital Promise sees Remake Learning as a national model for this emerging approach to catalyzing regional innovation.

“We’re thrilled to be back in Pittsburgh, where we hosted our first EdClusters summit in 2014,” said Cricket Fuller, director of Education Innovation Clusters at Digital Promise. “Pittsburgh has such a unique and powerful mix of schools, universities, foundations and tech innovators. It’s one of the places we point to as being on the leading edge of education innovation.”

The celebratED event also recognized 10 after-school program providers for excellence and quality, four school districts for embracing holistic approaches to innovation, and four regional corporations for their work to build career connections for area students.

The audience responded with enthusiasm at celebratED when asked to introduce themselves to the folks around them.

The $50,000 Blueprint for Learning grants were awarded to:

Allegheny Valley School District
Attack Theatre
B.F. Jones Memorial Library
Bible Center Church
Boys & Girls Clubs of Western PA
Center that C.A.R.E.S.
Hope Academy
Human Services Center Corporation
Monongalia County Schools, North Elementary School
Pittsburgh Public Schools, Brashear High School
Providence Connections
Riverview School District
Senator John Heinz History Center
The Campus Laboratory School of Carlow University
Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf
Wheeling Country Day School

The innovations selected for the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh are:

Fabricating Change in Mental Wellness: A digital fabrication lab (Fab Lab) at Intermediate Unit 1’s Colonial Campus where students diagnosed with mental health conditions design, prototype, build and learn.

The Finch: A teaching tool created by BirdBrain Technologies makes computer science more engaging and more accessible. Robots are loaned for free to educators serving underrepresented populations.

Global Minds Initiative: An after-school program, launched by students in Pittsburgh Public Schools, where participants create inclusive spaces to combat intolerance and foster intercultural friendship and understanding.

Hillman Academy: An eight-week summer learning program at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center where high school students work alongside world-renowned scientists in real, hands-on lab settings.

JAM: A student club at Avonworth Primary Center where students have raised thousands of dollars for local charities by making and selling crafts and gifts right in their school’s makerspace.

The Labs @ CLP Summer Skills Intensives: A summer program at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh that connects teens with local artists and librarians to explore photojournalism, filmmaking, beat making, personal branding, street art and more.

MAKESHOP: A research-based learning environment for maker learning permanently embedded in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh that provides materials and support for anyone ready to start their own makerspace.

Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild: A community center that started as a ceramics program in 1968 and has grown into a comprehensive after-school arts program with an impressive track record for helping students graduate from high school.

Simple Interactions: A practice-based, strengths-focused and community-driven approach to support helpers who serve children and youth, led by researchers at the Fred Rogers Center, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Education.

Summer Dreamers Academy: A no-cost premier summer learning program of Pittsburgh Public Schools that provides the academic benefits of summer school alongside the fun of summer camp to fight summer learning loss.

transformED: An initiative of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to support educators growing their teaching practice together in a safe space that is filled with technology tools and other supports.

Youth Express: A program of SLB Radio Productions that equips teenagers with media-making tools to create and distribute commentaries, discussions, documentaries and other youth-generated media through a 24/7 radio station.