Building relevant, resilient, and equitable schools
In response to sudden school closures this spring, educators acted with urgency, ingenuity, and compassion as they raced to meet the educational and social-emotional needs of students remotely. The Opportunity Trust supported this work through our Remote Learning Innovation Fund, providing funds to help ensure all children in our region have access to vital ongoing learning opportunities and support.
As schools prepare to resume in the fall, educators are faced with perhaps one of the most consequential decisions in a generation:
How much energy do we put towards restarting what we were doing pre-pandemic, and how much do we put towards rethinking and redesigning aspects of school?
We launched the Reinvent Grant Fund to support intrepid leaders with bold plans to transform their schools to better prepare students for the 21st Century. We invite educators to apply for individual/team grants of $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, and school and district grants of $5,000, $10,000, and $15,000 to support their proposal for reinvention, aligned to one of the 9 Leaps for Equitable 21st Century Learning. Applicants from registered 501(c)(3) organizations may also apply if their proposal is integrated into a school or school system’s approach to fall restart.
What are the criteria for the grant?
Applicants must be affiliated with a registered 501(c)(3) or LEA (school or school district) in the St. Louis region.
The transformation seeks to advance equity by focusing on students furthest from opportunity.
Your proposed idea aligns with at least 1 of the 9 Leaps for Extraordinary, 21st Century Learning.
Your proposal is clear on the outcomes it seeks to achieve, there is a path for it to be implemented in the near term, and it has the necessary support and capacity to be executed well.
Represents a transformation or practice that will endure and evolve beyond the fall and be incorporated into the fundamental approach of the school or district.
What are the 9 Leaps for 21st Century Learning?
The 9 Leaps provide a framework for making the changes that are needed to move from inequitable, industrial-era learning to learning that is equitable and responsive to the demands and opportunities of the 21st century. They were developed by Transcend, a national nonprofit organization focused on innovation in school design.
Learners use critical thinking skills to make deep meaning of diverse, complex ideas and are assessed on their ability to apply, analyze, and use their knowledge in creative ways across contexts.
Learners engage in experiences that nurture the totality of cognitive, emotional, social, and physical factors that impact their learning, development, character, and well-being.
Affirmation & Anti-Oppression
Each learner develops a unique, positive sense of self and purpose as well as a deep appreciation of and respect for the identities of others; these diverse identities are celebrated, nurtured, and leveraged to meaningfully support learning.
High Expectations with Unlimited Possibilities
All learners experience high expectations and have equitable access to many opportunities, enabling them to progress toward their aspirations for themselves, their families, and the community, regardless of the time and support needed to do so.
The focus, pace, and sequence of learning, as well as the resources and supports provided, are tailored to each learner’s identity, prior knowledge, development, way of learning, and life experiences, ensuring all learners have just what they need to be successful, and learners who need more receive more.
Learners engage in activities and explore topics relevant to their interests and goals, are connected to their community, enable them to understand and tackle real-world problems, and build their ability to see and dismantle injustice.
Learners are active drivers of the learning process; they grapple directly with concepts and problems while receiving adult and peer guidance and support, and they have a voice in decisions about how and what they learn so that the process grows their agency and meaningfully builds on their interests and prior knowledge.
Connection & Community
The environment is relationship-rich: learners are deeply known and respected by adults and peers, collaborate with one another, and form relationships that nurture empathy, foster belonging, support well-being, and build social capital.
Anytime, Anywhere Learning
Learning happens anywhere and at any time, with teachers, families, community members, and other important figures in a young person’s life all playing an important role.
What are some ways schools are making leaps towards more equitable, 21st century learning?
Impact Schools launched a rigorous distance learning program with a holistic focus that engages K-2 students in social-emotional learning (SEL) routines, math and literacy practice, decolonized project-based learning, and robust enrichment programs.
Magnolia Montessori for All created a distance learning plan with the explicit goals of academic growth, supporting strong family systems, sustaining social-emotional growth, and facilitating community well-being.
Lindsay Unified School District in central California strengthened their learner-centered model through the disruption of the pandemic by making the leap to anywhere, anytime learning.
Applications will be accepted and administered on a rolling basis through July 31
How do you apply?
Determine which one your plan will address
Gain more insight into the 9 Leaps Framework and the Reinvent Grant Fund
Develop your proposal and your team