Prizes have been known to inspire, encourage and promote innovation. Earlier this year we worked with The Foundation for Excellence in Education to launch the My School Information Design Challenge. The challenge sought out to find a better design for state level school report cards that could more effectively share school accountability information with key stakeholders like parents, policy makers, educators, students and community members. The challenge drew dozens of design submission from talented organizations and individuals around the country that will help inspire new school report cards that are more user-friendly and accessible.
NewSchools Ignite will launch challenges open to companies and nonprofits to build digital tools that support teaching and learning. The initiative will activate growth in areas that are crucial for teachers and students but have undoubtedly lacked innovation. The winners of each challenge will receive grant funding, targeted content and support to help bring new tools created into classrooms around the nation – especially in communities that are commonly underserved.
To kick off the initiative, NewSchools Ignite also announced the Science Learning Challenge, open to entrepreneurs “building digital learning experiences that support students’ development of science and engineering skills”. NewSchools plans to distribute up to $1.5 million in grants to up to 15 entrepreneurs who are developing digital tools for science education. Entrepreneurs who have already gone through accelerators or who plan to pursue accelerator opportunities in the future are invited to apply.
“The edtech ecosystem is bubbling over with talent and ideas, yet teachers nationwide have identified a void in digital tools that support science learning across the K-12 spectrum. Our Science Learning Challenge will mobilize entrepreneurs to develop their most promising ideas to fill this void and give them opportunities to receive invaluable feedback from educators and researchers.” said Stacey Childress, Chief Executive Officer of NewSchools Venture Fund. “Through this program, we hope to empower more underserved students as explorers and creators, and to ignite students’ curiosity for deeper learning across the sciences.”
WestEd will partner with NewSchools Ignite to facilitate a research-based product development and will provide the Science Learning Challenge winners with recommendations, product design feedback and additional research perspective. Winners will also work with WestEd to evaluate product potential for improving outcomes for students and usability/feasibility in the classroom.