This article first appeared in Kidsburgh.org, a media partner of NEXTpittsburgh that focuses on making Pittsburgh a better place to raise kids.
What could the world of learning look like in 10 or even 20 years?
The team behind Remake Learning’s Moonshot Grants began asking that question at the start of this year. Their goal was to fund ambitious new ideas that could make that preferred future come true.
But rather than require applicants to prove the likely outcomes of their ideas, they requested the opposite: Think boldly, they said. Try something completely new. Use the signals of change we see around us to dream up powerful, collaborative projects that haven’t been tried before. Along the way, center equity and justice to ensure that all students will benefit from the learning of tomorrow.
After announcing grants of nearly $500,000 in their first phase of giving last spring, Remake Learning has announced a second round of funding this week totaling another $590,000.
Among the recipients: 1Hood Media will develop the 1Hood Media Academy for Youth Art and Activism. In the spirit of the Moonshot Grants, this project will challenge traditional notions of positive youth development, cultural literacy, and student success through creative and activist expression.
The program will be participant-led, giving young people a meaningful voice in shaping what and how they’ll be learning. 1Hood’s co-founder and CEO, Jasiri X, says the organization has welcomed young people into their decision-making process for several years, and it’s a central aspect of this new project.
“Young folks are going to come up with their own creative ideas. They’re not going to do things the way that we do it,” he says. But those valuable, creative ideas will go unheard unless young people are “actually helping to make the decisions on the direction of the programming.”
Another funded project: Butler Area School District will launch a project called “Growing a Green Future.” In Butler, some students live in rural areas and are actively involved in farming, while others live in the city of Butler—which is effectively a food desert.
In order to bring fresh food to the entire community while teaching environmental science, farming and business skills, and community cooperation, the Growing a Green Future program will use acreage at one of Butler’s rural elementary schools for farming fresh produce. Students across the district will collaborate on growing and selling the food.
“We have a very big geographic area in our district and being able to have multiple buildings working towards the same common goal for our community’s good is really exciting,” says Butler superintendent Dr. Brian White.
The round-two grant recipient organizations will join the Moonshot cohort and meet with one another to further develop their ideas through professional learning and community building. Though each organization will be building their own project, the group will collaborate and encourage each other to think boldly.
Since 2020 began, “educators have been surviving and trying to thrive, and people have done the best that they can with what they have,” says Dorie Taylor, Moonshot Grants project manager and co-producer of Remake Learning Days Across America.
“Thinking boldly at this time may be asking a lot. It might be scary. It might be exhilarating,” Taylor says. But it’s also deeply necessary if we’re going to make the most of this moment.
The grantees tell Remake Learning they feel ready to create something powerful.
“It’s cool to begin to say, ‘OK, well let’s shoot for the moon’ and kind of see what happens,” Jasiri X says. “As far as the young people we interact with, we feel like we can create this safe space where artists and activists feel they can be their full selves. What will come out of that is the creativity and the new thinking that we need to get out of the situation we’re in right now.”