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Strategic Initiative

Education Initiative

The idea: make our region the leader in student-centered education.

We want to see our region lead the country in individualizing education to meet the needs and ambitions of all students.

Who they are; how they learn; what they want to do.

Three dimensions of Student-Centered Learning, video created with Youth Lens 360.

We are spreading the idea of student-centered learning, that is relevant to 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. 

What we are working toward is nothing short of a transformation in how schools support the development and success of every individual student. This means a transformation in how schools are structured and run. There are lots and lots of ways in which schools can incrementally individualize educational experiences for students that move them from the traditional model closer toward truly customized model. For example, they could add a career experience program in partnership with a local employer. We think that’s great and we want to encourage any changes that make educational experience more relevant to kids.

That said, what we are working toward is the spread of new models that combine all three elements of relevance in significant enough ways that students have an experience that is truly customized for who they are, how they learn, and what they hope to achieve in life.

Why do we believe this is a great idea?

We believe educational opportunity is the single most critical factor in making our region better for everyone. We need an education system, both formal and informal, that helps all kids reach their full potential – not meet a minimum standard. We believe that if we are serious about wanting every student to succeed, we need to radically rethink how we can support and develop every student.

 We believe individualizing education will allow us to engage and inspire every student to reach their full potential. We will be able to tailor the model to the person and ensure we have a system that truly works for everyone.

We also believe individualizing education will better prepare students for success in our changing world. Individualized education requires students to own their own learning and be self-directed problem solvers. We believe this type of educational approach will produce people with far better capacity to create opportunities and solve problems to make our region better for everyone.

Major Investments

Our most significant investments to encourage the spread of student-centered learning are partnerships with intermediaries that build the capacity of schools in our region to individualize education.

We’ve partnered with 2Revolutions on the School Design for Individualized Learning program since 2017.  This is a design experience for educators who want to reimagine the purpose and structure of school. The program prepares educators to develop individualized learning plans that meet the unique needs and potential of all students.  Participants may also get funding for implementation.

We have partnerships with five other intermediaries that help build the capacity of schools in our region to provide individualized learning: EdVisionsNACA Inspired Schools NetworkBlack Hills Specialized Services – TIEUniversity of Notre Dame, and the Lindsay Unified School District.

We also support and host events that bring people together to be inspired, equipped and connected as they work on amplifying student-centered learning in their schools and communities. Our most recent event series, Student-Centered Learning For Equity, took place virtually in Spring and Summer 2020. 

Check out other grantees related to student-centered learning.

Funding and Learning Opportunities

We regularly offer opportunities for people to learn more about student-centered learning and see examples of how it works, including our annual regional convening. To make sure you know about any opportunities, please sign up for our e-newsletters or follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn or Twitter.

We encourage people working to support student-centered learning to apply through our open grant programs.  (Note that we’ll be making some changes to our open grant programs to be more open and responsive to the communities we serve. Stay tuned!)