Education Initiative

Make education more relevant for all students.

For every student in the region to succeed we need an education system that works for all students. This requires a more personal, more relevant approach to education.

The guiding goal for our Education initiative is to make our region the national leader in providing student-centered learning that meets the needs and ambitions of all students.

We invest in efforts to make education more relevant for all students in terms of:

  • WHO THEY ARE: Create learning environments that welcome and support students from all cultures and backgrounds. 
  • HOW THEY LEARN: Customize learning to help students learn in a manner and at a pace that meets their individual needs. 
  • WHERE THEY WANT TO GO: Help students imagine their future and provide them with supports tailored to get them there. 

Learn about our approach with our strategic initiatives.

Explore our Regional Scan of Individualized Learning.

Individualized Learning: Making Education More Relevant for All Students

Our Direction

Creating real, sustainable change to the way we approach education will require a lot of people to think bigger and differently about what is possible. We know that in order to accomplish our goal, we need to inspire, equip and connect people who want to make student-centered learning an essential part of the education system.

People who want to know more about individualized learning

promote the power and possibility of individualized learning

We host a number of events for people who want to learn about individualized learning. These events feature national and regional speakers who share insights about individualized learning that they have gained through research and experience, as well as workshops and presentations from researchers, practitioners and students.

Learn about our latest annual event, help on May 3, 2019

Learn about our Learning Journey application, open through Oct. 25, 2019

People who are ready to implement individualized learning

support efforts to incorporate individualized learning in schools

We partnered with 2Revolutions, a national education design lab, to present an education design experience for educators who want to reimagine the purpose and structure of school.

School Design for Individualized Learning prepares educators to develop individualized learning plans that meet the unique needs and potential of all students. Participants have the chance to obtain funding to implement.

We also invest in other school intermediaries that help build the capacity of schools in our region to provide individualized learning. Our current intermediary partners are EdVisions, NACA Inspired Schools Network, Black Hills Specialized Services — TIE, University of Notre Dame, and the LIndsay Unified School District.

People who have already implemented individualized learning

rolling out a grant to support schools

There are a number of public and private schools in the region that already incorporate individualized learning. We know that the support infrastructure in our region for individualized learning is fairly nascent.

We will continue to work with these schools and existing support organizations to identify gaps in the ecosystem and create strategies to fill those gaps. Together, we will develop a support infrastructure for people and organizations who want to learn more and who want to do more individualized learning in schools. 

Learn about our School Intermediary Grant.

Our Investments

We work in consultation with community stakeholders, issue experts, our Board of Directors and others to identify and develop promising investment opportunities.

Our current investements include:

  • 2Revolutions: To create a cohort-based program for schools to build and implement plans for individualized learning.

  • CliftonLarsonAllen and nine Minnesota schools: To conduct a process to identify the needs and shape the beginnings of a community of practice for practitioners of individualized learning.

  • Greater Twin Cities United Way: To expand the College and Career Academies, a program focused on career relevance in greater Minnesota.

  • Black Hills Special Services Cooperative: To spread customized learning models across all South Dakota schools and equip districts with the tools to implement customized learning.

  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: To create a year-long language institution that prepares Native and non-Native teachers to effectively incorporate language and culture into K-12 learning and instruction across all content areas. 
  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce: To pilot a career network in the Winona area that connects local industry/employers with schools to create meaningful career pathways for students in the area. Read about their progress in bMagazine.

Tell us who we should know about. We do not accept unsolicited proposals for funding through our strategic initiatives. However, we do want to know about the people and organizations doing great work in the region.

Learn more about Education Major Investments.

What We're Learning

The Bush Foundation commissioned Social Policy Research Associates (SPR) to conduct baseline research on the state of individualized learning across the region in order to inform the Foundation’s education initiative. We invite you to explore these findings and to use the information here to enhance your own thinking and work in education.

In 2017, the Bush Foundation brought together Native Education expertise from across the region to come up with a collective vision for how to increase opportunities for Native student success. Learn what they shared with us here.

What's Next

We will continue to inspire, equip and connect people who will power the ideas and strategies that will make education more relevant to all students in terms of who they are, how they learn and what they want to do. We will do so through the opportunities highlighted above, while continuing to learn, adjust and/or provide additional opportunities that address specific community needs or areas.

We will use the learning and advice from the Native Education Advisory Group to better serve Native students in our current and yet to be identified investments.

We will explore the technology and policy environment critical for individualized learning ecosystem support, and the role that the Foundation can play in these areas. 


learning journeys

We are accepting applications for our 2019-20 Learning Journey program, now through Friday, October 25, at noon Central. Groups of two or three people from the same school or learning context are eligible to apply. Those selected will participate in a fully-funded, six-month learning journey comprised of cohort learning sessions and visits to local and national schools with exemplary student-centered learning models. Please contact our partners at The School Leadership Project for application details. 


Organizations can apply for our Ecosystem grants, which help sustain organizations that create unique and significant value for our grantees, Fellows, Rebuilders and others. 


Business leaders are encouraged to explore opportunities within Bush Fellowships and Change Networks.


Visit our Opportunities page or subscribe to our newsletter to stay current on what we offer.